Ernesto Valverde says Lionel Messi’s Argentina return was inevitable

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has said that Lionel Messi’s return to the Argentina fold was inevitable despite his recent reluctance to play for the national team. The Blaugrana star made himself unavailable for the South American nation shortly after a disappointing summer World Cup where they were ousted at the round of 16 stage.

Thereafter, there had been concerns whether Messi would have any intention of returning to Argentine duty but he has eventually ended the speculation by making a comeback for the forthcoming international friendlies. When asked on the same, Valverde admitted that there were no surprises and the question would rather have been presented to Lionel Scaloni, who is currently the head coach of Argentina. He said: "It's a question that concerns the Argentine coach. Messi's call, he escapes from my field. That Leo was going to return, we all knew, sooner or later. We see it naturally and I do not care at all, it's no change from other years."

Lionel Messi insists Barcelona need to concentrate on La Liga title race

Argentine superstar Lionel Messi has said that Barcelona should remain focused on the title race following their stunning 4-2 comeback triumph over Sevilla on the road. The Blaugrana were 2-1 down at the hands of the Andalusian outfit at the interval, but they managed to turn things around with Messi coming up with the 50th hat-trick of his career.

Following the game, Messi said that the Catalan giants still have a long route to retaining the league title and they need to avoid complacency during the forthcoming run of fixtures, he told BeIN Sports: “No, because there is a long way to go. But it was really important to win because of what it means to win here and to keep our distance ahead of our rivals. Now more than ever, you have to use your head. Every time, it becomes more difficult to win, so we go away happy. We know what this ground is and what players they have. It was a difficult match for us but we were able to move forward.”

Marcelino hails Lionel Messi

Valencia manager Marcelino has hailed the game-changing abilities of Lionel Messi during his side’s 2-2 draw against Barcelona on Sunday. The Mestalla outfit appeared primed for a shock win after taking a 2-0 lead within the 32nd minute but they were thereafter pegged back with Lionel Messi scoring a goal in either half to level the proceedings.

Following the game, Marcelino admitted that he is disappointed after witnessing his team drop points despite holding a 2-0 advantage at one stage. He added that Los Che could have sealed the win with a third goal but the ‘extraordinary’ Messi was on hand to deny them a victory which could have enhanced their top four prospects.

Gerard Pique backs Ernesto Valverde to remain Barcelona boss next term

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has backed manager Ernesto Valverde to remain at the helm of things beyond the summer. The Spaniard’s future has recently come into speculation with reports indicating that he could mutually part ways with the Blaugrana when the current season comes to a close.

Amidst this, Pique has spoken glowingly about the progress made under Valverde and highlighted that the players would have no concerns, should the manager prolong his stay with the Catalan giants, he said: “It's a decision that he will make and we will respect because he is the coach. We would be delighted if he decided to continue and he is doing a magnificent job. He brings calmness and he is producing results and showing that his way works.”

Gerard Pique insists he will retire when he stops enjoying football

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has revealed that he would step down from the beautiful game once he loses the enjoyment from the sport. The central defender started the season in a poor fashion where he was guilty of making several defensive mistakes but of late, he has improved on his performances while getting on the scoresheet more regularly.

Speaking after the recent 5-0 triumph over Levante, Pique said that he is pleased with the improved defensive record from the Blaugrana of late while admitting that he could have started the season better on the personal scale, he said:"We're playing better football recently, conceding less goals and scoring many more. Now, we're thinking about the next game [against Celta Vigo]. It's tough to start like I did in previous seasons, but the day I don't enjoy what I do, I will leave it. We hope to do a lot of great things with this great generation of players."

Ernesto Valverde insists Luis Suarez is still playing at his peak

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has said that Luis Suarez has been playing to the peak of his abilities. The Uruguay international had gone through a six-match spell without finding the scoresheet but he has managed to overturn his fortunes with six goals coming off his previous four appearances.

Out of those, two came during the away triumph at Rayo Vallecano where Barcelona had to come from behind and speaking after that game, Valverde was very pleased with the impact from Suarez, he said: “Luis Suarez has been playing at the top of his ability for a very long time," he told a news conference. Right now, he's scoring goals, more goals than perhaps before. We need him and we're extremely happy with him.”

Xavi fancies Lionel Messi to play until the age of 40

Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez has hailed the mental strength of Lionel Messi and believes the Argentine has the capacity to play until the age of 40. Messi has been with the Blaugrana throughout his professional career and he is presently their all-time scorer with 564 goals across all competitions.

Speaking to reporters, Xavi was complimentary of his former teammate and believes the Argentine has the credentials to prolong his footballing career until the age of 40, he said: “For a player like Messi, you need very little to do to play for as long as he is 38, 39 or 40. He is incomparable. Let’s be honest, what do you lose when you grow old as a footballer? Physical pace?But mental pace, that’s what Messi has and that won’t diminish. I think that he would be able to play wherever he wants on the park. He already drifts into the centre of the field and is effective there, as he is at defending too because he is very strong mentally.”

Arturo Vidal not pleased with reduced gametime at Barcelona

Chile international Arturo Vidal has admitted he is not pleased with the reduced gametime under the tutelage of Ernesto Valverde this term. The 31-year-old made the surprise move to Barcelona from Bayern Munich during the summer but things have not gone right for him thereafter with just two starts from six appearances.

Moreover, he has not managed to complete 90 minutes in any of those matches and Vidal has now admitted that he is now pleased with his current treatment at the Blaugrana, he said: “I am not happy but if I have a problem with the coach I will say it to his face. How am I going to be happy if I don’t play, and me of all people?
“I am someone that has always fought, that has been in the best teams in the world that has won everything and who wants to continue winning at Barcelona. I am fine physically and happy. In the past few games I have been a little irritated but that’s how it is, we will keep battling, there are a lot of important games ahead and we will see.”

Nacho Monreal hints at new Arsenal contract amid Barcelona speculation

Arsenal defender Nacho Monreal has suggested that he is open to prolonging his stay with Arsenal beyond the current campaign. The Spain international has been a solid performer for the Gunners over the past six years but of late, he has been linked with a possible move to Barcelona during the January transfer window.

Amidst this, Monreal has taken time to speak about his future and in a report covered by Evening Standard, he has stressed that he has no apparent desire to leave the Gunners, he said: “At the moment we are talking with the club. I've always said I am really happy, I feel very happy playing for Arsenal. I came [almost] six years ago. I have a good relationship with them. We are in contact in any moment so don't worry about that. I am happy here. That is the most important thing.”

Barcelona boss pleased with the involvement of summer signings

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde has admitted that he is pleased with the involvement of the club’s summer signings during the recent friendly game against Tottenham Hotspur. The trident of Clement Lenglet, Malcom, and Arthur featured during the 2-2 draw versus Spurs which they won on penalties and Valverde was particularly pleased with the efforts of the latter, who has no European experience to his name.

Speaking to reporters, he said: “The new signings? They all played really well, it was evident that both Lenglet and Arthur have been training with us for a little while. We had no doubts about Lenglet because he already played in Spain and we have been working on Arthur settling in but this was very encouraging. We believe Arthur can give us a lot in terms of possession, bringing the ball forward and offering a goal threat.”


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