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Barcelona's Malcom avoided 'provocation' during match vs. Roma

Sid Lowe unpacks the 'unknown package' that is Barcelona ahead of the 2018-19 campaign and provides the latest on Ousmane Dembele's murky situation with the club.

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Malcom said he wouldn't rise to Roma's "provocation" after scoring against them on Tuesday only to see Barcelona go on to lose the game 4-2.

Roma were hours away from signing Malcom last week and had even reached an agreement with Bordeaux when Barca swooped in with a bigger offer, landing the Brazilian for €41 million.

Speaking before the International Champions Cup fixture at the AT&T Stadium, Roma defender Kostas Manolas said he had "never heard" of the Brazilian forward and the club's social media account jokingly "muted" him from its timeline.

"I don't get involved with that sort of provocation," Malcom told reporters after the match. "What's important is what happens on the pitch. There's no need to go over and over [what happened]. I am here, I'm a Barcelona player and I want to help. I hope to be able to make the supporters happy."

Pressed for his thoughts on how Roma have dealt with the transfer saga on Twitter, he added: "No, nothing [to say]. It's just jokes. I'm not angry about it."

Malcom, who had several good chances throughout the game, gave Barca a deserved second-half lead after Rafinha and Stephan El Shaarawy had exchanged first-half goals.

However, as Barca coach Ernesto Valverde rang the changes, ending the game with 10 B team players on the pitch, the Spanish champions fell apart.

Roma took full advantage of the inexperience of their opposition and turned things around with late goals from Alessandro Florenzi, Bryan Cristante and Diego Perotti.

"We played really well until the final 15 minutes," Valverde said in his postmatch news conference. "Before that, though, there were 75 really good minutes. We dominated the play and played the way we want to.

"Even with the kids on, we still had chances to go 3-1 up. After that, Roma have pressed us more and what happened was normal -- they had a more experienced team. We took risks with the youngsters [in the second half] to give them that chance to face these situations. That's how you learn.

"My idea is for the first team players to play together so that they can get used to playing with each other and so that Malcom can pick up the group dynamic. That means the kids then all play together [later in the game]. Maybe that's the price we have to pay [losing the game]."

As well as Malcom's performance, Valverde was also impressed with Rafinha, who followed up his two assists against Tottenham at the weekend with an expertly taken goal.

The midfielder has suggested he could leave Barca in search of regular football this summer but he could yet find what he wants at Camp Nou.

"Rafinha's done really well in both games and in training," Valverde added. "He gives us an advantage because he can play in different positions, wide or through the middle.

"He's got a great attitude, too, and, for me, this is the first time I have been able to see him over any length of time. So in terms of seeing him continuously, this is a first. I am delighted because he's playing really well and showing a great attitude."

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