Ernesto Valverde plays down speculation of 'great player' Antoine Griezmann joining Barcelona

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Antoine Griezmann has announced his departure from Atletico Madrid.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde refused to be drawn on whether the club would look to bring Antoine Griezmann to the Camp Nou over the summer.

The France forward has informed Atletico Madrid he wishes to leave at the end of the season.

Griezmann was heavily linked with a switch to Barcelona last summer, before opting to stay at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Following the announcement by the 28-year-old, speculation is again rife the La Liga champions will renew attempts to broker a deal, with the striker’s release clause said to be in the region of €120million.

Valverde, though, played down any suggestions the transfer was as good as done when facing the media ahead of Sunday’s final league match at Eibar.

“We’ve always said the same. He’s a player who is at another team, he’s a great player, we’ve always said that,” the Barcelona boss told a press conference as reported by the Spanish media.

Pressed on whether Griezmann would fit into his team, Valverde replied: “If in the end he comes to Barcelona, we will see, but we are talking about hypothetical situations, about a player who may or may not come in.

Valverde tried to deflect attention away from Griezmann's impending arrival.

Valverde tried to deflect attention away from Griezmann’s impending arrival.

“I have already been asked about other types of hypothetical situations and I’ve not talked about it either.”

Barcelona are expected to strengthen over the summer, as the club aim to last the distance in Europe once again having fallen short in the Champions League, this season at the semi-final stage against Liverpool.

Valverde said: “I do not know the number of signings that there may or may not be, this goes for the club, I am part of it but there are other parties that have to express their opinion.

“We have to make the best possible team, taking into account the strengths that we have.”

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu maintains Valverde’s job is safe as they aim to complete back-to-back domestic doubles, despite their European disappointment.

Barca face Valencia in the Copa del Rey final on May 25 as they look to win the competition for an unprecedented fifth straight year.

On his own future, Valverde said: “We have already talked about all this, we know that when there is a defeat there is a lot of criticism for everyone, and then things get softer until the next game arrives.

“We have to focus on what we have to gain and not on what happened.”

Valverde added: “The season has been very good, that is the reality.

“Yes, it has been damaged by how we have fallen in the Champions League, but we have won a (Spanish) Super Cup, we have won La Liga with days in advance and we can win the Copa del Rey.”

Valverde hopes the game against Eibar can provide focus ahead of the Valencia tie.

He said: “Eibar always have high intensity, we like matches like that because we want to continue competing and we have the final.”

Forward Kevin-Prince Boateng has been ruled out by a left knee problem.

Eibar boss Jose Luis Mendilibar, whose side have already guaranteed their top-flight survival and could yet finish as high as 10th, hopes everyone can enjoy the end-of-season visit of the champions.

“I hope it’s a party for the fans and for us. We are in a comfortable position, we have fulfilled objectives,” he said, quoted by the club website.

“We would like to finish higher, among the top 10, and we have the possibility if we win.”

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Ernesto Valverde's job is safe, according to Barcelona president Bartomeu

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Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde’s job is safe, according to club president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Valverde is closing in on completing back-to-back domestic doubles but has overseen embarrassing Champions League exits in both of his seasons in charge at the Camp Nou.

Barcelona blew a 4-1 first-leg advantage to lose on away goals against Roma in last season’s quarter-finals, before Liverpool overturned a 3-0 deficit in Catalonia to win 4-3 on aggregate at the last-four stage this year.

But Bartomeu told the club’s website: “He is the coach we want, he is under contract and we are very happy with him.

“Planning for next season has been under way for some time. Some players have already been signed and we’ll talk further after the Copa del Rey final.

“Our main objective is La Liga and, after that, we want the Copa del Rey and the Champions League.

“We won La Liga with some games in hand. We all want more.

“Now the Copa del Rey final is coming and we’re coming off a painful loss.

“It’s time to pick our heads up, to get excited and to get motivated to compete.”

Barcelona face Valencia in the Copa del Rey final on May 25 as they look to win the competition for an unprecedented fifth straight year.

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Pep Guardiola 'the best manager in the world' says Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde

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Pep Guardiola led Man City to a second straight league title.

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde heaped praise on club legend Pep Guardiola after the Manchester City manager oversaw his side becoming the first team to retain the Premier League in a decade.

Guardiola’s City wrapped up a second straight league title on Sunday, with the possibility of completing the first-ever domestic treble in English football history looming large as they prepare for the upcoming FA Cup final clash against Watford.

Valverde’s Barcelona have themselves won La Liga for a second straight season, continuing their dominance in Spain where they have won eight of the last 11 league titles – a run that began when Guardiola was appointed manager in 2008. The former Barcelona midfielder went on to win La Liga in each of his first three seasons as first-team coach.

“He has done something amazing, not just because of what he is doing and winning the Premier League, but what he has been doing for so long,” Valverde said after Barcelona’s 2-0 win over Getafe on Sunday.

“For me, and I said it back in the day, he’s the best manager in the world and you can learn things from him every single day.

“He has all my congratulations and he still has the possibility of winning another title with his team. We all like him here.”

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