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Barcelona aren't 'short of goals' after Neymar departure to PSG - Valverde

Ernesto Valverde refused to be downbeat after his first official outing as Barcelona manager ended in a 3-1 defeat against Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup first leg on Sunday.

Lionel Messi had drawn Barca level after Gerard Pique's own goal opened the scoring at Camp Nou, but late efforts from Cristiano Ronaldo, who was also sent off, and Marco Asensio handed Madrid the advantage ahead of Wednesday's second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.

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However, Valverde, who replaced Luis Enrique in May, felt the result slightly flattered Zinedine Zidane' side.

"I don't feel we were as far away as the scoreline indicates," he said in his postgame news conference.

"[Madrid] were strong in midfield, which made it tough for us to play through the middle. They're a side that run a lot and they use the space well.

"They scored three, but it was a game in which we did well and we had chances. They've caught us out with a counter-attack at 1-1 [to make it 2-1] and scored a great goal -- that second goal did a bit of damage to us.

"And the third goal was, again, a great goal. It's not just about getting to the danger zone, but also being clinical."

Neymar's world record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain has removed one of Barca's main goal threats, although Valverde disputed the idea his side appear to be lacking a cutting edge going into the new season.

"It's not about accumulating people who score a lot of goals, but creating a consistency in our play so that the players who score the goals are always close to doing so," he added.

"I don't think we're short of goals. [Madrid] were more clinical. We congratulate them and we will try to improve."

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Lionel Messi scored from the penalty spot but was left largely frustrated in Barcelona's loss to Real Madrid.

But, with Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele being chased by Barca, Valverde did say that the club will work hard until the end of the month in their attempts to improve the squad.

"We're Barca and we want to have the best team," he said. "Until the end of August, there's time [to sign new players], although I'm focused on the [players] I already have here."

Midfielder Sergio Busquets was more direct, saying new signings are needed and not just because of the loss to Clasico rivals Madrid.

"We don't need new signings because of the result, but because we always have to renew [the squad] and try to improve, no matter what," Busquets told reporters after the game.

Guangzhou Evergrande coach Luiz Felipe Scolari confirmed earlier on Sunday that Brazilian midfielder Paulinho will leave the Chinese Super League champions for Barca, although there's been no official confirmation from the club yet.

Coutinho, meanwhile, has handed in a transfer request in a bid to force through a move to Camp Nou, while Dembele is currently suspended by Borussia Dortmund after missing training last week.

Barca have had bids turned down by Liverpool and Dortmund for both players, but are expected to return with new offers this week.

Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.

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