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Valverde talks favourite Messi moments, Vermaelen, Alcacer and Valencia

Atletico Madrid v Barcelona - La Liga Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Ernesto Valverde has faced the press ahead of Sunday’s eagerly-anticipated clash with Valencia at Mestalla.

Of course Lionel Messi’s new contract dominated most of the questions but the Barca boss also talked about his defence for tomorrow and Paco Alcacer.

Here are the best bits...

Valverde on Messi renewal

I think it’s very positive news, people can relax now. We have been waiting for it to be official. The signature is done so there should be fewer questions for him and me on that topic and everyone can relax. We are happy for him, happy for everyone and its great news for everybody.

Valverde on Vermaelen and Umtiti

I think when there's a situation like this with two left footed central defenders, people think it’s strange however when you play with two right footers people don't think it’s so strange. So there’s a contrast there. They are both internationals and they will have to play a little bit differently but it's no so different from when he play with Mascherano. It's an important game and I trust both Umtiti and Vermaelen. I think we're covered for the game tomorrow.

Valverde on David Costas

We are also going to take David Costas of the B team with us to Valencia. He has experience and a different profile, it can help.

Valverde on Valencia

They are in the middle of a very good streak, a winning streak. They have a good coach, good players, they have a clear plan and they work well. They don't have competitions in midweek that can wear them down. I think they are primed to have a good season in La Liga. Based on all that they should do good things. They are up there in the standings, we have to realise that this is a rival for us.

Valverde on Real Madrid and Atletico

Look at the maths, there are a lot of games left, we know how good our rivals are. People look at the 10 point difference and we know they are behind us but the team right behind us is four points behind and tomorrow it could just be one. So we are focused on tomorrow.

Valverde on Barcelona

We hope everything improves, even when things go well you want things to improve. There are things I'd like to being doing better, we don’t dominate possession as much as I'd like, or create scoring chances as much as I'd like. But I understand there are games when we have scored a lot of goals. I’ve alway said we are trying to generate possessions and scoring chances and I think we are not giving up many

Valverde on Paco Alcacer

We want him to score. He’s a player who is always playing way up high trying to get open and he's trying to score goals and we are trying to help him do that. Luis Suarez is also trying to do that and I'm trying to get Alcacer a little bit out on the wing but in decisive moments, defences usually close that hole up and we want him to work hard and always realise that the defence is always worried about, and when they move back a step, he can move forwards.

Valverde on his favourite Messi moments

I think it would probably be when I was coaching another team. If I had to choose just one, one image of Messi a lot of things come into my head unfortunately the one he scored against us in the Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey final when I was coaching Athletic. I think for Barca fans it was an extraordinary goal, but for us not so much! Now I'm here, the goal against Getafe because of the similarities with Maradona’s goal. I think the header against Manchester United in the Champions League final too.

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