Ernesto Valverde happy with Barcelona squad ahead of 2019/20 season

Sport360 staff 10/08/2019
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Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde says he is happy with the squad at his disposal going into the 2019/20 season.

The Spanish giants were very active in the transfer market and are expected to remain so, as they attempt to sign Paris Saint-Germain winger Neymar.

The coach, however, provided no clarity on the club’s pursuit of the Brazilian when he addressed the media ahead of Barcelona’s final pre-season friendly against Napoli on Saturday night.

“That’s just an assumption,” Valverde responded when asked if Neymar’s arrival would distort the balance at the club.

“We’ll see what happens, but you already know the usual answer which is that he’s a player of another team and so on.

“I know what I have, what I’m working with and who I’m counting on.

“What happens, we’ll see. We don’t know what’ll happen and I’m not thinking about it. I’ll think about it tomorrow.”

The Basque coach reiterated that he is happy with the team and will work with all the players in the squad.

“I’m always happy with the players I have,” Valverde explained.

“They’re very good. Even last year we almost had a perfect season.

“Now we’ve made four important additions and we have to try to improve.”

Ivan Rakitic has been linked with a move away from the club, with Inter Milan emerging as favourites. The manager admitted that he is unsure of the player’s future at the club but confirmed that there is nothing to suggest that he will be departing yet.

“He’s very important for us,” Valverde said.

“His work is there. Right now I don’t know if he’ll stay, but I’m counting on him, as I am with everyone we have.

“In principle, nothing makes me think I won’t have him.”

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Ernesto Valverde can't rule out Ivan Rakitic departure as Neymar talk continues

Sport360 staff 10/08/2019
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Ernesto Valverde has conceded he does not know whether Ivan Rakitic will stick around for Barcelona’s 2019/20 campaign.

Rakitic will go down as one of Barca’s finest pieces of transfer business, having enjoyed a starring role at Camp Nou ever since signing for a bargain £16.2m from Sevilla in 2014.

But the Croatian – who scored the opening goal against Juventus in the 2015/16 Champions League final victory – may now be coming to the end of his Blaugrana career.

It is thought that the 31-year-old may be used as a countweight in Barca’s bid to bring Neymar back to Spain, while there is also reported interest from Italy.

And while Barca boss Valverde still values Rakitic, he admits to having doubt over whether his long-term future lies in Catalonia.

“He’s very important for us,” said Valverde, according to Marca. “His work is there. Right now I don’t know if he’ll stay, but I’m counting on him, as I am with everyone we have.

“In principle, nothing makes me think I won’t have him.”

It has been a busy summer at Camp Nou even if Barca do not land Neymar, having added France star Antoine Griezmann, left-back Junior Firpo, Ajax man Frenkie De Jong and back-up keeper Neto to their stocks.

“I’m always happy with the players I have,” Valverde added “They’re very good. Even last year we almost had a perfect season.

“Now we’ve made four important additions and we have to try to improve.”

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Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde unsure about Philippe Coutinho's future at the club

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Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde admitted that he is unsure of Philippe Coutinho’s future at the club.

The Brazilian – who was snapped by the Spanish giants for €142 million – is at the end of a poor season and has been linked to a move out of the Catalan club. It is believed that Barcelona are still interested in signing Neymar and Coutinho’s potential departure could be key.

Tottenham and Arsenal were among the favourites to land the former Liverpool man on loan on deadline day. But a return to the Premier League now seems unlikely for the 27-year-old.

Valverde admitted that he is unsure of the player’s future but will continue to work with the team as long as he is a Barcelona player.

“We do not know what will happen, but Philippe is a player who is with us,” he told a news conference after Barca’s 2-1 friendly win over Napoli on Wednesday.

“He has not played but the plan we have with him is the same. We’ll see if he plays a few minutes on Saturday.

“But he is a player who is with us and we have him, of course. He is with us and we think he will continue with us.

“In all these transfer windows there is talk of many things.”

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