Xavi: Barca value Martino

Barcelona captain Xavi says the club’s players respect and value Coach Tata Martino, despite strong rumours he will be sacked at the end of the season.

It is strongly rumoured that Celta Vigo tactician Luis Enrique has already agreed to succeed the Argentine at Camp Nou.

However, ahead of the Catalan giants’ decisive La Liga encounter with Atletico Madrid on Saturday, the 34-year-old insisted the reports were just speculation and that Barca currently have more important things to think about.

“It’s all speculation,” Xavi said at a Press conference. “We are playing for the League and we can’t think about that. There will be time later to talk about arrivals and departures.

“I have a good relationship with Luis Enrique but we need to respect Tata. The Coach is a great worker who we value a lot, more so than people outside the club.”

The midfielder then commented on this Satuday’s crucial match, which Barca must win if they are to snatch the title from their opponents.

“We thought it was bleak, we thought we had lost La Liga but football has given us another opportunity.

“We are playing at home in front of our fans and we have everything in our favour to win. We have a historic opportunity.

“It will be a spectacular final. Anyone who thought we would still have a chance would have been classed as crazy!

“We don’t need to shut anyone up, it would be impossible to shut everyone’s mouths! All we want to do is win the League.

“We have an excellent generation of players and we can do great things over the coming years. This is a unique match and I don’t know if we will ever experience something like this again.

“It is a tremendous final and it is the perfect test for this team. We’ve never played such an important League match.

“Atletico Madrid are a very difficult team. They are the best team defensively in Europe. The press very well, they are very solid and they have a lot of options.

“They are one of the fittest teams around. In five matches, we have won one and drawn four. The key for them could be to score before us.”

Finally, Xavi was asked about the imminent departure from the club of Victor Valdes, who confirmed his Camp Nou exit this morning. This is in addition to defender Carles Puyol.

“It really hurts, we are great friends.  Puyol is an example for all our generation of leadership and strength.

“We will miss him a lot both on and off the pitch. It’s the same with Victor, he is the best goalkeeper in Barcelona’s history.”

Tags Martino Valdes Xavi