Ernesto Valverde was back in the hotseat on Friday, as he answered questions from the press ahead of Saturday’s trip to Atletico Madrid.
Unsurprisingly he was asked lots of questions about Ousmane Dembele, he also spoke about Arturo Vidal potentially replacing Ivan Rakitic as well as the fitness of Philippe Coutinho and Samuel Umtiti.
Here are the best bits:
Valverde on Dembele
He’s a member of my squad. We are all trying to help to get the best out of him. The best he’s got is his talent and we want him to show that on the pitch. He’s doing very, very well. He missed a lot of last season through injury, but it’s tough to find a player with such natural talent and his physique. Obviously we are a club where there’s pressure on everyone to play, not just him.
Valverde on Vidal replacing Rakitic
He’s a possibility, he did that the last international break too [came straight off the plane to training] he’s very dedicated. There’s every chance he could play in that position tomorrow, other players could too. I won’t deny that when he’s played he’s done very well.
Valverde on Coutinho
We’re going to wait for the training session afterwards. He has trained this week, not every session, we’ll see how he is. We don’t want to run too many risks because there are other big games ahead.
Valverde on Atletico
Tomorrow is a very, very important game, especially after losing our last game. We lost three points and now we have a game where we are fighting to keep the lead. It’s a very tight league, a very open league, and the reason is because other teams have played very well, and some of the bigger teams are dropping points that maybe they should have been picking up.
Valverde on Umtiti
We try to manage things as best as we can. Rather than a problem it’s a solution that he’s match fit again. We’ve been playing with the same centre-backs and they’ve done well but now we have another option. Looking at the games we’ve got coming up it’s great news he’s back with us.
Valverde on Arthur playing twice for Brazil
It’s something we are bearing in mind, we have a training session today, we’ll see how he goes. I do know he’s played two full games, so yes I’m thinking about that.