Ernesto Valverde has spent weeks working with a group of 27 players, 26 if you remove Lionel Messi from the conversation. From those 26 you have to take out Abel Ruiz, Riqui Puig and Carles Pérez who will remain primarily with Barça B. That still leaves 23 senior members of the first team available when Valverde can only name 18 for the match against Athletic Club.
There's still a problem when it comes 'overbooking' in midfield. Rafinha is unlikely to be involved as the club searches for a buyer. Coutinho is another who is expected to miss out with his future lying away from the Camp Nou. It could also be impacted by a deal for Neymar being agreed ahead of the match. Jean-Clair Todibo is likely to miss out due to Valverde preferring only to have one centre back on the bench.
ARTHUR AND COUTINHO AREN'T READY
That leaves two final spots which are likely to be midfielders. Arturo Vidal and Arthur have only been involved in 24 minutes of action this summer and are unlikely to be involved straight away. Aleña, de Jong, Rakitic, Sergi Roberto and Busquets are more than enough to cover the three slots. With Messi practically 'out', Valverde could name one of Perez or Ruiz on the bench to offer an attacking option.
Whatever Valverde decides, it could give a clear indication of who - and who doesn't - have a future at Barça.