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Valverde talks Mascherano, Rafinha, Dembele, January transfers and benching Messi

The Barcelona boss has been taking questions

FC Barcelona v Sporting CP - UEFA Champions League Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Ernesto Valverde has held his usual pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s trip to Villarreal and unsurprisingly Javier Mascherano was the main topic of conversation.

The Barca boss clearly didn’t want to give too much away and “we’ll see what happens” was the main message, he also spoke about Rafinha, Ousmane Dembele and Thomas Vermaelen.

Here are the best bits...

Valverde on Mascherano

“The winter transfer market has not arrived yet, we are waiting for that to begin. That [Mascherano] is one of the questions we have to look at.

“For the time being he is one of our players and whenver he's had to play he's played well.

“He’s committed to the club on and off the field and as long as he plays for us we don't have to think about anything else.

“We will see what happens. I have my opinion, you have yours and he has his. We will deal with it internally.”

Valverde on January transfers

“We'll see what happens, what is clear is that Barca, like every other team, wants to reinforce if it can in the transfer market.”

Valverde on Rafinha and Dembele

“Rafinha did a rondo the other day. It’s the first time he's trained with the team since I got here.

“It’s a step forward. I want to see him play not just in training but in games. Every day that gets closer.

“We really want them to help us. Dembele had a tough injury and we will see if we can get him back little by little.”

Valverde on Vermaelen

“There were a lot of questions about him but he's a player who is responding well. He had to play in a pretty demanding situation and I think he is doing it well.

“We are happy with him, he's really focused, he's good in the air and on the ground too. We are very happy with him and we trust him completely.”

Valverde on leaving Messi on the bench

“I think the players are conscious of the difficulty of these very long seasons and the accumulation of games, not just this year, but last year too.

“I don't think there's a problem with Messi or any other player. We'll see if I do it again, it depends on how things go.”

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