Ernesto Valverde has been talking all things Espanyol ahead of Saturday’s La Liga trip to the Cornella-El Prat.
The Barcelona boss spoke about Arthur and Luis Suarez, as well as Samuel Umtiti’s situation and Riqui Puig’s role with the team.
Here are the best bits.
Valverde on Suarez and Arthur
We are going to wait until after today’s training session. They trained yesterday but let’s wait and see. We’ve got some time as well on the matter. It’s not 100 per cent clear, but let’s be optimistic.
Valverde on Suarez’s knee issues
He’s been having some treatment the last few days. We’re hoping he’ll be OK to play tomorrow. I don’t want to worry any more than we need to. We are monitoring the situation very closely, the idea is for him to play and to play well, but obviously we need to be careful. He’s played some intense games for Uruguay and for us, and we don’t want to overbuden him.
Valverde on Umtiti and potentiall buying a centre-back
There’s not really been any big development on that front. I said last week we want to be optimistic about getting Umtiti back as soon as possible. We need to monitor his injury and them make a decision. We won’t make a decision ahead of time. Hopefully the treatment will work out well and when he comes back, hopefully soon, we can just carry on as we were before. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We don’t want to overload the team with players either.
Valverde on Riqui Puig’s role for the rest of the season
I don’t know, I can’t guess or predict, we will have to see how the season unfolds, but it’s certainly good news that we have youngsters that do so well when they play for the first team and excite the fans. Riqiui is one such player, not the only one, so we’ll see.
I think it’s pretty clear he has to focus on the B team for now, this year he will be floating a bit between the first and second team and I’m sure there will be chances for him. Alena is now a fully-fledged member of the first team and let’s hope Puig can be soon. But we need to take our time with these things, monitor his progress - but it’s very good at the moment.
Valverde on Espanyol
It’s a tight derby because there’s not much difference between the teams. The difference in points makes no difference because people play more with their hearts than their heads in these games. They are playing well at the moment, they are doing well at home, so it’s a big test tomorrow We are finding it very hard to get points away from home, but all teams in La Liga are, that’s why it’s so tight.