Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has described coaching Lionel Messi as “a unique experience” after he extended his contract until 2021.
Messi’s new deal keeps him at Barca until he turns 34, and despite acknowledging the announcement had ‘reassured’ the club, Valverde asserted he had no doubts that the Argentine would commit himself to Camp Nou.
“Leo staying is very good news and it’s helped to reassure our surroundings,” the Coach said at a Press conference.
“We were calm [before his renewal] because he was fine with us. Playing at the same club for 21 years is something that only very few players can accomplish.
“For me, coaching Messi is a unique experience.”
Barca face Valencia on Sunday, in a clash between La Liga’s top two, but Thomas Vermaelen will come in from the wilderness for his first start of the season as Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano are unavailable.
“They’re in a very good run of form,” continued Valverde.
“I was only somewhat surprised because I expected them to have a great season. They have a good Coach and great players.
“They’ve worked well and they don’t have midweek games, which makes them more dangerous.
“We’ll give them importance for the team they are, the progress they’ve made and because games against them are always intense.
“It’s going to be an attractive match between two teams that are in good shape. Playing with two left-footed centre-backs seems strange.
“Umtiti and Vermaelen are two contrasting players at the top level. They haven’t played together until now, but they’ll play in a game of elevated importance.
“David Costas will be in the squad to complement them. He has top-tier experience and despite being in the B team, he has a different profile to what we have.
“He can help us, depending on how the game goes. We have several options.”