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Ernesto Valverde talks Lionel Messi, Neymar and Ivan Rakitic ahead of Athletic Bilbao

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The latest from the Barcelona boss

FC Barcelona v SSC Napoli - 2019 International Champions Cup Photo by Rey Del Rio/International Champions Cup/Getty Images

Ernesto Valverde has held his first pre-match press conference of the new season ahead of Friday’s opener against Athletic Bilbao.

Unsurprisingly the Barcelona boss was asked about Neymar, Lionel Messi, Ivan Rakitic and plenty of other topics during the session.

Here are the best bits:

Valverde on Neymar

I’m focused on my team and the players I have. I’m not involved in those issues. I’m not thinking about players in other teams. I’ve always maintained that line of respect. He’s a PSG player and we will see, but I can’t tell you anything about that.

Valverde on Messi

We are not going to take risks and less so with Leo. He hasn’t trained yet with the team and doing recovery work is not the same as working with the team. We will wait, but he is following a fairly good recovery process.

Valverde on Rakitic

Rakitic is a very important player for us. He has been in the last two years and we hope he will continue to be.

Valverde on transfers

Of course it’s a problem (not knowing his final squad) it’s not logical. We had a similar situation last season. You want to know who your squad is when you start the league. The transfer market is still open but the league is starting. It means the team that starts the league is not necessarily the team that will finish it. We have 15 days of uncertainty in front of us. I have to concentrate on the squad I have. It would be nice to think this is the squad but I don’t know yet. The doors aren’t closed either way

Valverde on Athletic Bilbao

Starting at San Mamés is complicated. We know the potential of Athletic Club. They’ve maintained the dynamics of last year and we will have to be focused. We want to start off on a good note and win our third consecutive LaLiga Santander title.