‘I feel respected at Barca’

Tata Martino has thanked the people of Barcelona for helping him settle in at the club and in the city.

Speaking at a Press conference prior to Sunday’s League game against Levante, Martino discussed his experiences with the supporters he meets day-to-day.

“I feel respected by the fans of Barcelona,” Martino said.

“But people want to know how the players are before they ask how I am.

Martino added he had no problem with Lionel Messi returning to Argentina to rehabilitate his injury.

“To handle it differently from the rest is quite logical.

“He feels good because he’s been able to work on getting fit in December which other players couldn’t do.”

While Messi has returned, Neymar has been ruled out for a few weeks after spraining his ankle in the Cup win over Getafe.

Martino confirmed that the injury to the Brazilian will give a chance to a squad member who hasn’t played so often this season.

“We know players feel important when they get minutes.           

“It’s not easy to keep them all happy but it’s true that an injury to one presents an opportunity for another.

“We want all our players to make positive contributions but some have to do it in less minutes than the rest.”

With Neymar out, Martino has turned to the B team for reinforcements in form of Jean-Marie Dongou.

“I haven’t consulted with [Barca B Coach Eusebio] because we had a need in the absence of Neymar.

“I wanted one who can play inside and whenever we need a replacement we call for Dongou.

“The bottom line is there’s the first team and the rest. We have to be selfish, although sometimes I could summon more players but I don’t.”

Martino moved on to the form of Sergi Roberto, praising the midfielder’s recent performances in the first team.

“What he has been doing speaks well of his intelligence.

“But I think he has a lot more to give. The other day against Getafe he demonstrated some excellent decision-making.”

The win over Getafe marked Xavi Hernandez’s 700th Barca appearance and Martino admitted he was thankful for having the chance to work with the playmaker.

“Who wouldn’t have loved to play with him?

“But Barca players fulfil their dreams and that of their Coaches and I am no exception.”

Martino concluded by touching on the future of Victor Valdes, who has announced he will leave Camp Nou this summer.

“Victor’s decision has put Barcelona in trouble.

“Especially for a team like this in which the goalkeeper has a big role.

“The opponent might get three shots but we know Valdes will save them.

“He’s made his decision. We know that and we’ll review what to do in future.”

Tags Dongou Martino Messi Neymar Valdes