Valverde talks Iniesta fitness, Messi’s 600th game and gives Dembele update ahead of Sevilla clash


Ernesto Valverde has faced the press ahead of Saturday’s clash with Sevilla and once again faced a wide range of questions.

The boss was “optimistic” Andres Iniesta will be fit and also spoke about Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and gave a brief update on Ousmane Dembele’s recovery.

Here are the best bits…

Valverde on Iniesta

He didn’t do the complete training session, just a part of it. He’s not been given the medical all clear. We’ll wait until the end of the session to see. If he’s in the squad, he’s fit to play. We are optimistic about Andres – hoping he can play for us.

Valverde on Aleix Vidal

He’s still unfit. He’s got an ankle problem that’s been operated on. Now he’s in recovery. I have just been talking to the doctors and he’s getting a lot better, closer to full recovery.

Valverde on Messi making 600th appearance v Sevilla

600 wow that’s extraordinary. 600 games for the same club, scoring the goals he does, the asssists, the brilliance, we have run out of adjectives to describe Messi. That shows how important he is to this club. It’s an extraordinary number of games, but it’s also what those games have been like.

Valverde on what he likes about his team

What I like about the team is that they play for each other, they attack together, they defend together. We’ve had some tricky games, where we’ve gone behind but the team has always managed to fight back. I really like the team in general. Perhaps our games have never been that spectacular, we need to work on that but the results are certainly coming.

Valverde on Ter Stegen

When goalkeepers make mistakes, it’s very clear, evident and even when they are not mistakes people sometime accuse the goalkeeper. With Ter Stegen we have to praise everything he’s done, not just as a goalkeeper but also helping us with our style of football from the back. We are very pleased with him.

Valverde on Luis Suarez

Sometimes it just goes 10cm to the left or right and that’s what everything hangs on. The key is for the player to be in the position to score. It’s a question of perseverance and if there’s anything that characterises Suarez it is perseverance. He is always going to get chances, all you can ask of him, is to never give up and I don’t get the impression that that is a problem for Suarez.

Valverde on Eduardo Berizzo

He prepares well, he got good results at Celta, he tends to go into games looking to win them. He likes his team to take the initiative. I think tomorrow’s game is a dangerous one. I understand they will try to turn around their situation, play aggressive football and try to stop us getting the ball out of defence. They won’t play ultra defensively, it will be hard for us to gain possession. That’s the way they play and that’s right. I think he’s doing the right thing.

Valverde on Ousmane Dembele

He was doing some exercises yesterday. He took his boots off to do that [which was pictured on social media]. It’s the normal process, I spoke to him yesterday, he’s quite happy his recovery is going well. Players always want to hurry their recovery but we need to make sure he stays on track.



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