Ernesto Valverde insists Javier Mascherano still has a part to play at Barcelona. “He’s a point of reference in our dressing room.”
Mascherano has reportedly told Barca that he wants to leave the club in January, with a lucrative move to China mooted, but Valverde suggested selling the Argentine would ‘weaken’ his squad.
“It’s clear that Barcelona, like everyone else, want to strengthen, not weaken, themselves,” the Coach said at a Press conference.
“We have issues to address in January. We’re always attentive to the market, like any other team, but without forgetting that we want to strengthen what we have.
“Mascherano’s a veteran player that everyone respects for how he conducts himself, both in the game and with his teammates.
“He’s a point of reference in our dressing room. He’s still our player and whenever he’s played, he’s always done so at a great level.”
Looking ahead to Sunday’s trip to Villarreal, Valverde expressed his ’satisfaction’ with how the Catalans were doing.
“They have big losses in midfield, but they’ll play like they usually do,” he continued, referring to the Yellow Submarine’s absence of Pablo Fornals and captain Bruno Soriano.
“They play good football, they put their opponents into submission and they’ll want to do it with us.
“They’ll be true to themselves, doing the things they know how, like ourselves. Players recovering? Rafinha has yet to train while I’ve been here.
“I want to get to know him through matches and training sessions. We want him to help us.
“It’s the same with Dembele, who we will integrate bit by bit without taking any risks.
“I like how my team play, but I always think about improving things. We’re never completely happy, but I’m satisfied with how things are going.
“We’re getting more and more settled. Although I may not show it, I’m happy. We had problems at the start of the season and we’ve played some games better than others.”
Finally, the Basque made it clear where he stood on Cristiano Ronaldo’s claim that he was the best ever after he drew level with Lionel Messi’s five Ballon d’Ors.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion and can make it public,” he noted.
“For me, the best players are here, from Messi to the others.”