Barcelona Given his backing
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has given his backing to under-fire coach Ernesto Valverde after defeat to Levante and a draw with Slavia Prague in midweek.
Bartomeu feels Valverde’s role in a long-term project looks beyond the short term nature of such results.
“This season we have brought young players who should help us to get through this era,” Bartomeu told Associated Press.
“We think that Valverde is the ideal coach to lead this combination of a generation of players of a certain age who have had success with promising players.
On the field, the side has another key influence, but Bartomeu is keen to begin to think about life after Lionel Messi.
“In the next two or three seasons our leader will continue to be Leo Messi,” Bartomeu insisted.
“But it’s true that there are other young players who come, players who come from abroad, but also players who come from La Masia.
“We’re very happy because we are preparing for the era after Messi.”
There are now less than two years on Messi‘s existing contract, though Bartomeu is optimistic that it will not be the end of the No.10’s time at the club.
“Messi‘s contract ends in 2021,” Bartomeu explained, “but surely there will be the desire of both parties involved, if they feel strong and ambitious, to extend this contract indefinitely.
“I always compare him with Pele, Pele was a man with just one club in Brazil, I have no doubt that after Messi ends his career as a footballer, he will continue to be linked to this club for the rest of his life.”
Messi was also believed to be influential in Barcelona‘s pursuit of Neymar this summer in a transfer which never materialised, though Bartomeu would not be drawn on the topic.
“After what happened last summer he is with PSG, so we should have the utmost respect for the club and its players,” Bartomeu responded.
When Neymar left in 2017, the club looked to Ousmane Dembele and later Phiippe Coutinho to replace him, but Bartomeu is the first to admit that neither deal has quite worked out at present.
“Coming to Barcelona and triumphing is not easy, Ousmane has had bad luck with injuries but we trust in his talent,” Bartomeu admitted.
“The adaptation for Coutinho was not easy, this year we opted for a loan to Bayern Munich, but Coutinho is a world class star.”
Barcelona currently sit on top of LaLiga Santander.