Ernesto Valverde has given his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s La Liga clash at Rayo Vallecano.
The boss talked about Lionel Messi’s recovery from injury, several other first-team players and, of course, Saturday’s opponents.
Here are the best bits:
Valverde on Messi
It was an arm injury so it’s normal that he’s back training quickly, so he can keep in shape and be in contact with his teammates. We’re going to wait. It’s only two weeks since the problem, it’s soon, so we still have to wait.
The team’s form is not making me more cautious with Leo -- I’m being cautious because of injury he has. If he was ready tomorrow, he’d be there and we would be stronger.
He gives us that differential factor and we maintain the block and the sense of the team. So, the only thing with Leo is the affect it could have on his injury. We want him back. With Leo, we’re better.
Valverde on if he’s sending a message to Malcom after leaving him out of the squad
No, it’s a message for Aleña who is doing well and can help us.
Valverde on signing a Suarez replacement
Barca are always alert to the market and planning for the market, It’s a logical thing, not just for Luis. He is in a great moment of form and he stands the test of time very well.
Valverde on Vidal
He [Vidal] is training really well. We knew his competitive level. He’s training more and that takes him to a great level. He has an unmatched competitive edge.
Valverde on Dembele
It’s true that it depends on the game whether we’re interested in wide players who can open the pitch to us. Maybe he was suited to that the other day, with closed defences, but it’s something that can be improved, as well as his recovery after losing the ball
Valverde on Rayo
Rayo play good football and we will have to be careful. We are up against a good team who need to win and it will be tough. They are an attacking team who try to pressure you up the field and have skilful players
Valverde on giving youth a chance
For attitude, yes, they deserve chances. They’re kids that come to play and train and I have no doubts about them. But they have to compete -- there are good players here and they have to compete against them. That is the reality of this club, this team. We’re all here to win and there’s internal competition. The manager picks the best XI to win the game without prejudice.