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Luis Enrique, in the Ciutat Esportiva press room / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

With just a week to go before the curtain rises on the new season, manager Luis Enrique used Sunday’s press conference to sum up his views on the team’s progress.  The former player displayed his usual enthusiasm when he told reporters, “I’m delighted by the motivation and ambition shown by the players in training.  That makes me very optimistic...These session have been more intense and tougher than I expected because of their capacity for sacrifice.   I’m 100% optimistic the fans will enjoy what we do".  Luis Enrique also explained that he was happy with his preparations despite only having played five friendlies this pre-season.  “In some of the double sessions, our work rate has almost been like a real match”.

Loan spell for Deulofeu, a personal decision

It was announced on Thursday that Gerard Deulofeu is to spend this season on loan to Sevilla. Luis Enrique explained today that it had been a personal decision: "I knew that he wouldn’t get the playing time here that he needs to progress.  So I believe it’s better for him to go out on loan to have more playing time and demonstrate that he has a place in this Club".

Messi is such a good reader of the game so we mustn’t close off any opening that he sees on the pitch


Meanwhile, the manager admitted that he had been impressed by Leo Messi in training and confirmed that he will be given total freedom of movement in attack:  "He’s such a good reader of the game so we mustn’t close off any opening that he sees on the pitch.  He has complete liberty of movement in attack”.

Fellow Argentine international Mascherano, who is due to sign a new contract on 26 August, was also praised for his ability to play both in defence and in midfield.  “We’ll see him in both positions during the season”.  The managed stressed that competition for places would be tough: “We’re looking for ferocious competition.  The team will grow because of this competition".

With the transfer window coming to a close, Luis Enrique insisted that both he and the Club are always on the lookout for new players: "Neither I nor the Club accept that the squad is complete.  The Club should always be looking for reinforcements”.  He also took the opportunity to insist that Dani Alves remains part of his first team plans.  “He’s at an incredible level in training”.

Gamper debut for Luis Suárez

Luis Enrique is looking forward to his reunion with the fans on Monday evening at the Gamper and is anxious to get down to the serious business of the league.  “From now on we’ll be demanding the level we need to impose this season”.  FC Barcelona will take on Mexican champions Club León.

The manager confirmed that Luis Suárez will make an appearance during the match despite his lack of training.  "The impression is that he’s a top class player.  He reads the game well and understands our style”.  He also revealed that Xavi and Neymar are on the verge of being declared match fit so they seem likely to play.

Support for Barça B

Luis Enrique had a word of encouragement today for the rising stars or Barça B: “There are some top quality players there.  It goes without saying that we’ll have to give them a hand.  I love using young players with talent, and they are top rate.  There are quite a few with quality".

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