Barcelona players not affected by Neymar speculation

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has said that the players are unlikely to be affected by the ongoing speculation associating Neymar with a return to the club. The Brazil international has played no part for Paris Saint-Germain since the beginning of the season and reports have emerged that he is keen on returning to the Camp Nou before the September 2 transfer deadline.

Amidst this, Valverde has been questioned about the attacker’s potential return on numerous occasions, but the Spaniard has come up with the same response each time around. Speaking in a press conference, Valverde stressed that there is always speculation with the transfer window open and the players have to live with that.

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde praises Frenkie de Jong

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde has praised summer signing Frenkie de Jong and believes the midfielder will provide the added energy in the midfield to drive the team to further success. The Netherlands international was pursued from Ajax at the midway stage of the previous campaign but the terms of the agreement meant that he would only join the Blaugrana this summer.

Speaking in a press conference, Valverde hailed the arrivals of De Jong, Antoine Griezmann and Neto in recent weeks and gave special praise to the former, who has been brought to provide young energy in the centre of the park, he said: “These are three major purchases. Each in their own way. We expect a lot from them. They know that the fans are enthusiastic and we hope that they adapt as quickly as possible.

Valverde explains reason for Messi’s second half appearance against Alaves

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde has said that he wanted to keep Lionel Messi to remain active on the field of play during the midweek triumph over Alaves. The manager opted to start Messi on the bench for the game and some supporters were surprised when he was brought on to the pitch in the second half, where the club were cruising at 2-0.

Speaking after the game, Valverde indicated that the move has nothing to go with the Golden Shoe accolade and the focus was more on keeping the Argentine active ahead of the Champions League semi-final tie against Liverpool next month, he said: “The idea was that he’d play because the result wasn’t clear when it was goalless at half time. The suggestion that it was about the Golden Shoe... well, we focus on winning. It was time for him to get some rest today and to come out in the second half. It’s good for players to stay involved and active. You can’t put them away in a case and then just bring them out for one match.”

VALDES REVEALS ORIGIN OF TIKI TAKA

The football ideology based on short quick passes known as Tiki Taka has wowed the football world for the best part of a decade with Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola famous for this style. Guardiola has gone on to replicate this style with great success at German side Bayern Munich and Manchester City in the Premier League.

One major proponent of this system was the way he changed the perspective of the goalkeeping position with his tiki taka brand of football. Barcelona legend Victor Valdes was the first goalkeeper to experience this new style during his time in Spain and was one of the best passers of the ball for his position.

Iker Casillas set to retire at Porto after signing new contract

Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas has confirmed that he would like to retire with Porto after signing a new two-year deal with Porto. The goalkeeping legend has spent the past two-and-a-half seasons with the Primeira Liga giants and he is now prepared to see out the remainder of his career with the club.

Speaking to the club’s official website, Casillas said that he is pleased to have signed a new two-year contract at Porto and the present deal could potentially be the final one before stepping down from the game, he quipped: "Today is a very special day. I feel at home at this club. I want to stay here until I finish my career as a footballer. When I got here, many would think it would be to play a year or two and finish. I only have words of appreciation to this club. Not only to the club but to the city itself."

Barcelona needs to improve

Former Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes said that Barcelona needs to raise the level of their game if they want to beat Olympique Lyonnais. He said that the French team is a good team with some quality players and that they will cause the Spanish side problem, especially on counter-attacks.
Victor Valdes said that Barcelona has not been at their best in recent games and that they will have to improve massively if they want to make it to the next round.

He said that the Olympique Lyonnais players will be motivated for this game and they will want to put in a fight in order to get a result against Barcelona. He said that if the players are not careful they could end up with a defeat thus damaging their hopes of making it to the next round.
He said that the players should be wary of the threat posed by the French club and make sure that they give their best on the pitch.

Ernesto Valverde provides his backing for Philippe Coutinho

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has given his backing to midfielder Philippe Coutinho, who endured a difficult game against Girona in the Spanish La Liga. The Brazil international has struggled to secure a regular starting role under Valverde this term and he has done himself no favours after squandering a couple of golden chances to find the scoresheet.

The Blaugrana returned to winning ways with Nelson Semedo and Lionel Messi finding the net but the match could have been much more comfortable, had Coutinho converted his chances which included a one-on-one with the opposition keeper. Speaking after the game, Valverde was supportive of the former Liverpool man despite the average performance and suggested that he has been pleased by the Brazilian’s workrate throughout the game, he said: "What I like about him is that he always tries things and takes on his man. It might work or it might not. He had chances but didn't score because their goalkeeper is excellent. He'll convert other chances soon."

Luis Enrique hails the attitude of his players

The Spanish supporters were left gutted once again as the team suffered an early exit in another multi-team tournament. Spain failed to make it to the knockout stages of the on-going Nations League despite making a very good beginning to the group stage.

Spain lost the plot after earning 6 points out of the 2 matches. Two back to back losses after that sent them packing and it was a bitter pill to swallow for the supporters, but the coach Luis Enrique is not unhappy with the team’s performance and he thinks the team has actually got better since he has taken charge.

Thiago Alcantara hopes to stay with Bayern Munich for the long-term

Spain international Thiago Alcantara has iterated his ambition to stay put with Bayern Munich for the long-term. The midfielder has been marred by several injury concerns during his time with the Bavarian giants but he has nonetheless been an influential player for the club over the past five-and-a-half seasons.

Speaking to Goal.com, Alcantara said that he has gained experience during his five-year stay with the Bundesliga holders and he hopes to continue his association with the club for many years to come, he quipped: “I’ve matured here, gained important experience and the opportunity to enjoy football more. Life is made up of stages and, of course, some more years can be added to this stage.”

La Liga more competitive than ever

Former Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes believes that La Liga has become more competitive in recent years and it is becoming increasingly difficult to win it.

He said that there was a time where only Barcelona and Real Madrid was competing for the title but things have changed in recent years. He said that teams such as Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, and Valencia have all become stronger and making it difficult to win games against.

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