Barcelona, Clubs, Spanish Primera División, Story


Ousmane Dembele and Lionel Messi both found the net for Barcelona who enjoyed a comfortable win at the Camp Nou.

BARCELONA, Spain — Ernesto Valverde remains tight-lipped over his Barcelona future amid growing speculation he could leave the club at the end of the season.

Valverde, 54, replaced Luis Enrique as Barca coach in 2017, signing a two-year deal at Camp Nou with the option for an additional year included.

With just six months remaining on his initial terms, the former Athletic Bilbao coach is reluctant to confirm whether he would like to extend his stay by 12 months — a decision which must be taken in collaboration with the club.

“I have a contract with the club,” Valverde said at a news conference on Saturday after revealing he doesn’t know what he will be doing next season in an interview with Barca TV last week.

“It’s true that [the contract is] two years plus one, but at the end of the season the club and I have to decide if I continue or not. We’ve parked making a decision for now. It will be made further down the line.

“There’s always been a good understanding between myself and the club — but you know how the world of management is. You don’t win one week and you’ve got a price on your head. We have to assess it.

“We signed a contract and the two parties respect that. We will decide together. We’re leaving [discussions] until later in the season. There’s been a good understanding with the club from the off but we will see how things go.”

Valverde, who won a league and cup double in his first season as Barca boss, said his refusal to commit beyond the end of the campaign is not affecting the club’s long-term plans. He is already involved in planning for preseason.

He also joked that his acting skills mean an Antoine Griezmann-style “The Decision” documentary is not on the cards.

“I am a bad actor,” he laughed when asked if he’d be calling in Gerard Pique’s production company for filming.

“It will all be much simpler than that.”

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde
Ernesto Valverde’s Barcelona future is far from certain.

Valverde’s immediate focus, after Sunday’s trip to Getafe, is the January transfer window. Jeison Murillo has already arrived on loan and talks are being held with French duo Adrien Rabiot and Jean-Clair Todibo over summer moves when their contracts with their respective clubs expire.

“We are always open to improving but we will have to see if any players come in,” the coach added when asked if any new faces would be added before the end of the month. “But, in principle, we are happy with what we have and I am focused on the players we have here.”

League leaders Barca return to action at Getafe this weekend after a two-week Christmas break. Sergi Roberto and Malcom are both fit to return to the squad, but Samuel Umtiti, Thomas Vermaelen, Rafinha and Sergi Samper remain sidelined.

Forward Munir has been left out after sources confirmed to ESPN FC he has turned down the chance to extend his contract at Barca beyond the end of the season.

“We struggled to win at Getafe last season and we couldn’t beat them at home,” Valverde warned.

“They’re a tough side to start the year against. They’re a strong, intense team. Look at where they are in the table, fighting for Europe. It will be really difficult because they’re an uncomfortable opponent.”



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