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The 2017/18 preseason is taking shape and the second week of training has started as the squad prepare for their first fixtures. On Monday, after the morning training session at the Ciutat Esportiva, the coach Ernesto Valverde gave his first press conference of the season.

The manager said he is “is very happy with how the players have come back and their work ethic and commitment.” When asked about possible signings, Valverde states that he has the best players and it is important to recognise this: “We already have the best signings.”

Valverde, who has been the opposing manager on many occasions, said: “managing Messi takes a weight off your shoulders as when you are in the opponent’s dugout you need to figure out how to stop him and you never have enough players to do so.”

Before adding, “Messi is a player who does everything well, he is decisive and he will continue to do so. We will try and make sure he is always in areas of the pitch he is comfortable in and that, regardless of where he plays, he ends up in areas where he can influence the game and be decisive.”

The blaugrana coach revealed that the team’s playing style will consist of “taking the initiative and ensuring Barça’s signature playing style is still there.”

When asked about specific players, Valverde spoke about most of his squad and this is what he had to say about each one:

Iniesta: “My intention is to make sure he is happy, participating and contributing a lot.”

Sergi Roberto: “It is clear he is a versatile player. He has played in midfield but also at full-back and he does it very well. It is an advantage for him to have so many options.”

Rakitic and André Gomes: “They are two players in my time and, of course, I am counting on them.”

Deulofeu: “He has a muscular problem and is recovering at the moment. He is a player in this team and we think he can help us during the preseason.”

Neymar: “He is a player who can hurt the opposition. He starts on the wing but he can play in different areas. We need to think about the team’s balance and his versatility will help us.”

Satisfied with the Barça B contingent

During this preseason, five Barça B players have been training with the first team. Ortolá, Aleñá, Palencia, Cucurella and Vitinho have participated in Valverde’s sessions and the manager is very satisfied. “I think they have been very good, playing at a good rhythm and they are helping us a lot.

They have made a real leap from Division 2B to training with the first team and you can’t tell that much.” He added: “It is an important year for them in a difficult division in Division 2A and my intention is for them to help us out during the season.”

Robert Fernández: ‘We don’t want to lose players so we can get others’

The technical secretary, Robert Fernández, also spoke to the assembled media alongside Ernesto Valverde. He said the Club “has no intention of losing players so we can get others.” On the subject of possible signings, he revealed it “is Barça’s obligation to keep track of the market and the best players, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We have a great team and it is very hard to improve it.” Finally, Robert stated that “players with a contract are always difficult to sign” when asked about Verratti as a potential new arrival.

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