Ernesto Valverde has been talking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s La Liga trip to Levante.
The Barcelona boss spoke about the threat posed by Levante, several of his players and gave injury updates on Malcom, Sergi Roberto and Samuel Umtiti.
Here are the best bits.
Valverde on Levante
Levante have a very clear way of playing football, they’ve been getting some great results this season, also last season, it’s a continuation. They’ve got a very good counter-attack that works with the players they’ve got. They’ve got Morales, who is very creative. We suffered last year, they were the only team to beat us. There’s lots to play for, three points will keep us top but we know what a dangerous opponent we are playing.
Valverde on Malcom and Sergi Roberto
Sergi was back two days ago, Malcom yesterday. They both did a bit more work yesterday. But I don’t know if they will be ready for tomorrow, I think it’s probably too soon, maybe the next game.
Valverde on Coutinho
I’m happy with all my players. Sometimes some players play, sometimes others do. You always ask about those who aren’t playing. Philippe didn’t play the other day but he’s done a lot for us and will do a lot for us. There are certain moments when he doesn’t start, but others when he will. There’s competition for places in this team so don’t read too much into it. We are doing well, all the players are playing to the level required.
Valverde on Dembele
Dembele’s scored two goals in two games, two very good, important, difficult goals as well and let’s hope there are more to come. You have young players they all want to do well, they have targets and goals. They want to win, to play well, then little things do arise. but ultimately we’ve all got the same goal. We do try to make sure everyone is in line, sometimes little things can happen that might upset our focus, sometimes a lot more noise is made than what’s really happening.
Valverde on January transfers
Umtiti recovering would be good news for us in many senses. That would give us the same cover in that position as we had last season with four centre-backs. But we’ll have to see how Umtiti’s injury develops. We should know shortly. As for the winter market, we’re Barca, we always want to have the strongest team to cope with what we have ahead of us. For now I’m focusing on the players we have and the B team.
Valverde on Rakitic and Busquets
I used them against Cultural and Tottenham. Against Cultural we were still playing for qualification, against Spurs we’d already qualified so I used them a half each. Perhaps I could have done it a different way to give them rest. But they are two important players for me and important for the club, I think that’s obvious. We know that in January if we qualify in our cup game then we are going to have to rest players at some point of course.
Valverde on Umtiti
I can’t really say too much about Umtiti, he’s recovering, hopefully we’ll have more specific news shortly. In principle we have three centre-backs, with Vermaelen back from injury. While Umtiti is out obviously I’m looking at the B team. Cuenca, Chumi are players who can come up. We’ll make a decision when we need to.