Ernesto Valverde quotes before match at Villarreal

Ernesto Valverde quotes before match at Villarreal

See what the Barça manager had to say at Saturday's press conference about his team, the season, and Sunday's opponents

FC Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde spoke to the media on Saturday afternoon, shortly before taking the final training session before the trip to Villarreal (Sunday 8.45pm CET). Here’s a round-up of standout quotes from the Ciutat Esportiva:

On Villarreal:

"I don’t know how they’ll replace Bacca. They might play Raba further up like they did the other day. And they have recovered Castillejo. We’ve got injuries too, so we have to find solutions as well.”

“So we need to see what they’ll do to cover for the missing players, but they’re a team that likes to run the game and control possession. But we’ll be trying to do that too, so let’s see who wins that battle.”

On Javier Mascherano:

“I have my opinion, I’m sure you have yours and Mascherano has his own. But these are things we prefer to discuss in private.”

“There are things that need to be sorted out, but the transfer window hasn’t arrived yet and Mascherano is still fully committed to us and has always served us well. If he does leave, we’ll have to think of alternatives.”

"Everybody respects him. There are certain players that are natural leaders in the dressing room and he is one of them.”

On Dembélé, Rafinha and Iniesta:

"Rafinha hasn’t done a complete training session yet. Yesterday was the first time he’s worked with the group. I need to see what he can do in training. As for Dembélé, he’s back training with us but we don’t want to take any risks.”

“What Iniesta did yesterday isn’t enough, he was only involved in a small part of the session. We’ll have to see how he gets on today.”

On Thomas Vermaelen:

"He’s doing very well and you’re asking me about him less and less. He’s always well focused and a strong-tackler all over the pitch. He’s the kind of player who generates confidence.”

On the season so far:

"There are always things to improve, and although I might not show it, I’m very happy with the way things are going. I like the way the team are dealing with every situation. We’ve overcome early difficulties and gone on to win games.”

On Leo Messi:

"The players understand how long seasons are and how games start building up – so we might rest him again.”

On Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo:

"Everyone has their opinion and has the right to voice it in public. But I think we have got the best players here, starting with Messi and followed by all the others".

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