Valverde talks Messi, Paulinho and Luis Suarez after Barcelona beat Eibar

The coach has given his thoughts after the win

Ernesto Valverde was full of praise for his side after they maintained their perfect start to the season with a 6-1 thrashing of Eibar at Camp Nou on Tuesday.

Lionel Messi was, once again, the star of the show hitting four goals with Paulinho and Denis Suarez also on target.

So what did Valverde made of it all? Here’s a look at what he said in his post-match press conference (quotes via ESPN).

Valvede on Messi

“I don’t know what to say about Messi,” he said.

“He is one of the most intelligent players I’ve seen on a football pitch. He’s extraordinary. Today we played in a different way, without Luis [Suarez], but Messi is the same wherever you put him.

Barcelona v Eibar - La Liga
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

“From a play where it looks like nothing’s going to happen, he can create something good for us… and bad for the opposition.

“That he scores four goals isn’t news anymore. He’s done this time and again, on many nights and in many games. He repeats it, he repeats it and he repeats it. He loves football, he enjoys it and he never tires of winning.”

Valverde on Paulinho

“[Paulinho] adds something different, something we didn’t have in the squad with the other players,” Valverde said.

“He makes those runs into the area, he’s [a threat] from set plays. At the beginning, he was a little lost, but he’s been getting up to speed. Other players have more positional play; he’s strength, breaking the lines, set plays. The goal[s] have helped him settle.”

Barcelona v Eibar - La Liga
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Valverde on Luis Suarez

“I think this break will do him well,” he explained.

“He’s fine, but we thought a rest would be good. We hope he can help us moving forward. Today we made some changes to give some players a rest and others minutes and it came off.”

Next up is a trip to Girona and once again it will be interesting to see who Valverde selects.

Paulinho and Denis Suarez both now have two goals in two games and are pushing to retain their places, while Luis Suarez could return having had a rest.

Who do you think should start against Girona? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

WATCH: Barcelona players send message to Ousmane Dembele ahead of Eibar clash

The France international has not been forgotten

Barcelona players showed their support for Ousmane Dembele ahead of Tuesday’s Liga clash with Eibar at Camp Nou.

The France international underwent successful surgery today but will be out for three and a half months, and is unlikely to play again this year.

However, if he was watching from home, he will surely have been cheered to see his team-mates run out onto the pitch sporting T-shirts with the words ‘Courage Dembele’.

Get well soon Ousmane!

Barcelona have ‘no plans’ to strengthen in January, says Bartomeu

But Ousmane Dembele should be back by then

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu says the club have “no plans” currently to strengthen when the transfer window reopens in January.

The club brought in Ousmane Dembele, Paulinho, Nelson Semedo and Gerard Deulofeu this summer.

They were also linked with a vast array of plaers and were keen to sign Philippe Coutinho but were unable to prise him from Liverpool.

However, it looks as though there may be no new additions to the squad now until next summer, according to the president.

“There are no plans for the winter market,” he said. “[Dembele] will be back and he will show us all what we have already seen.

“I have spoken with him, he’s affected, but that’s normal. He told me he knows everything will be okay, though, and that he’s in good hands. By Wednesday or Thursday, he will be back in Barcelona.

“He could return in January, I hope so because that would represent a nice present for all Barcelona fans on Three Kings Day [January 6].”

Source | TVE (via FourFourTwo)

Hopefully Dembele will be back fit and firing in January and his return will be warmly welcomed.

The January window is a tricky one with the best players usually unavailable and prices at a premium and it looks like it might be a quiet one for Barca.

Ernesto Valverde talks who could replace Ousmane Dembele for Barcelona

The Barcelona coach says he has a range of options

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde has been discussing who could come in and replace Ousmane Dembele for Tuesday night’s clash with Eibar at Camp Nou.

The Frenchman has been ruled out for up to four months due to injury meaning Valverde must makes changes to his team for tomorrow’s game.

“There are several players that can play that position,” he said.

“We have [Gerard] Deulofeu, Aleix Vidal, Denis Suarez, Andre Gomes. There’s also the B team. We will look for alternatives to put together a side.

“Vidal’s a good player who can play at right-back or further forward, so he’s a useful player to have.

“Performances in training and in games are what decisions are based on and Arda, too, is very much a squad player who is here to play.”

Source | ESPN

Deulofeu appears the most obvious choice to come in but Valverde does have options and it will be interesting to see which team he goes with tomorrow night.

How should Barcelona line up against Eibar?

And who will replace Ousmane Dembele?

La Liga returns on Tuesday as Barcelona face Eibar at Camp Nou and despite everything, the club go into the game top of the table with a 100% record.

They will be expected to make it five wins from five too, but with Ousmane Dembele injured and the team playing its third game in a week, Ernesto Valverde has decisions to make.

Let’s have a look at how Barca might line up:

Defence

It goes without saying that Marc-Andre ter Stegen should continue in goal but there may be changes in the back four.

Nelson Semedo did not feature at Getafe and could return, while Javier Mascherano could replace one of either Gerard Pique or Samuel Umtiti.

There’s also potential for Lucas Digne to come in for Jordi Alba at left-back.

However, Valverde has rotated little so far this season, and having conceded just once, may be tempted not to tinker with the defence too much.

Barcelona v Real Betis - La Liga
Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Midfield

This is where it gets interesting and surely changes will be made after Saturday.

After making five starts in two weeks, Andres Iniesta was replaced at half-time against Getafe but surely he will be given a rest on Tuesday?

Ivan Rakitic was not at his best either and interestingly, both of Valverde’s substitutes on Saturday, Denis Suarez and Paulinho scored – time to reward them with a start?

Getafe v Barcelona - La Liga
Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Attack

Up front there are real issues to address, not just who is going to replace Dembele but the fact that Luis Suarez is woefully out of form.

Deulofeu will probably come straight in for Dembele although there are other options, Aleix Vidal, Paco Alcacer and even Sergi Roberto could feature – Alcacer could even come in for Suarez.

The Uruguayan had quite possibly his worst ever game for Barca on Saturday but may keep his place in the hope he can find the target and start to gain some confidence.

FC Barcelona v Real Madrid - Supercopa de Espana: 1st Leg
Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images,

Possible starting XI: Ter Stegen, Semedo, Mascherano, Umtiti, Alba; Paulinho, Busquets, Denis Suarez; Messi, Luis Suarez, Deulofeu.

Who do you think should start against Eibar? Let us know your thoughts and line-ups in the comments below!

Dembele injury offers Deulofeu big Barcelona chance

But will he take it?

News of Ousmane Dembele’s injury has come as a big shock to Barcelona as the forward faces surgery and a spell of upto four months on the sidelines.

If the initial fears prove true then we will not see Dembele in a Barcelona shirt again in 2017, a huge shame for both the club and the player.

Barca have another 19 fixtures scheduled between now and the turn of the year, which Dembele is expected to miss, leaving Ernesto Valverde in need of a replacement.

It also hands players a huge opportunity to try and stake a claim in the Barcelona attack, and none more so than Gerard Deulofeu.

Deulofeu is the obvious choice to directly replace Dembele, as shown on Saturday when he came on for the Frenchman after he hobbled off against Getafe.

The youngster was extremely highly-rated as he came through La Masia but his career has not reached the heights that were initially expected when he was a teenager.

When he returned to Barcelona this summer Deulofeu spoke of his delight at finally getting a chance to play in the first team, how he had been “waiting for his chance for years.”

The arrival of Dembele seemed to put Deulofeu back on the sidelines, but his bad luck now gives the former Everton man a huge chance, and it’s really time he grabbed it with both hands.

Deulofeu has already made six appearances for Barca in all competitions this season, is yet to score and has one assist and those stats will need to seriously improve if he is to become first choice.

Obviously Valverde does have other options, he could bring in Paco Alcacer, Aleix Vidal, Denis Suarez or even Arda Turan – but Deulofeu is the obvious choice a the moment.

He probably will not get a better chance to make his mark this season, it’s time he grabbed it with both hands.

Barcelona confirm injured Dembele out for three to four months

The youngster is to undergo surgery this week

Barcelona have been dealt a huge blow with the club confirming summer signing Ousmane Dembele is set for a lengthy injury lay-off.

The France international went off injured during the first half of yesterday’s 2-1 win over Getafe and will now miss “three and a half months and four months.”

Here’s the full statement from the club:

“The tests have come back following first team player Ousmane Dembélé has ruptured the tendon in his femoral bicep in his left thigh.

“The player will be operated on by Dr. Sakari Orava in Finland this week. He is expected to be out for between three and a half months and four months.”

Source | FC Barcelona

Dembele’s injury is a massive blow to both club and player, the youngster had made a bright start to life at Camp Nou and this is a real setback.

Hopefully, he can make a quick and successful recovery and we can see him back in action soon.

Get well soon Ousmane!

Barcelona move focus from Coutinho to Mane – report

Apparently the Brazilian’s team-mate is now on the agenda

Barcelona are reportedly interested in signing Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, with Real Madrid and Juventus also keen on the forward.

According to the Sunday Mirror, all three clubs are tempted by the Senegal international who has impressed ever since joining Liverpool from Southampton.

Mane has three goals in four Premier League outings this season already and his devastating pace, power and goalscoring ability makes him a highly exciting attacker.

The report also states that Barca’s interest in Mane means they are willing to finally give up on Coutinho.

However, if Barca found it tough going trying to sign Coutinho, going for Mane will probably be even more difficult, with the forward arguably emerging as the Reds’ most important player.

The 25-year-old scored 13 goals in 29 appearances in his debut season for Liverpool, although it’s worth noting his season was ended prematurely due to injury.

He also scooped the club’s Player of the Season and Players’ Player of the Season awards – highlighting just how highly he is valued at Liverpool.

Philippe Coutinho confirms he wanted Barcelona move

The Brazilian has given his version of events

Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho has confirmed that he was interested in a move to Barcelona this summer.

The Brazilian’s proposed move to Camp Nou dominated the headlines throughout the transfer window, but ultimately failed to materialise as Liverpool refused to sell.

Coutinho reportedly handed in a transfer request in a bid to try and force a move, which was subsequently rejected, and he has now spoken out about Barca’s interest.

“What happened was a job offer and, in life, sometimes you get interested, sometimes you don’t, and in my case, as everybody knows, I got interested, my family too,” he said.

“But as I’ve always said, it’s a great honour to receive an offer from such a great club like that, but it’s also a great honour being here, Liverpool is great club worldwide.

“Now I’m here and I’ll give my best, as always.”

Source | ESPN Brasil

Speculation continues to follow Coutinho, with some reports suggesting Barca will come back for the Brazilian at some point.

Coutinho featured for Liverpool in the Champions League in midweek, making him cup-tied for the competition, and suggesting a January move is highly unlikely.

Liverpool also have Naby Keita arriving next summer although whether Barca will still retain an interest in Coutinho by then remains to be seen.

Paulinho proves a point as Valverde’s changes win it for Barcelona

The coach’s substitutions worked a treat

It’s going to take more than one goal against Getafe but Paulinho has at least started to prove his critics wrong by scoring the match-winning goal on Saturday afternoon.

It was an afternoon that just did not go to plan at all for Barcelona, Ousmane Dembele going off injured before Getafe went in front with an absolute screamer.

Suddenly Barca’s 100% start to the season was in some doubt and credit to Ernesto Valverde for opting to change things with the club staring down the barrel of a first defeat.

On came Denis Suarez at half-time for Andres Iniesta, and just after the hour mark Barca were level, the substitute netting in some style, with a fine strike.

However, Barcelona needed more and Valverde obliged sending on Paulinho for Ivan Rakitic, and he smashed home the winner with a little over five minutes to go.

It was a brilliant moment from the Brazilian whose signing was criticised by many, as being too old, too expensive and simply not good enough.

He was also subsequently ridiculed during his unveiling when his attempt at a few kick ups, shall we say, didn’t quite go to plan.

But Paulinho didn’t seem surprised at all by his goal, perhaps understandably so, after all this is a man who has starred for Brazil in World Cup qualifying under Tite.

“I usually score goals of this type… Those are my qualities. I never give up on any ball,” he said after the game

“Those are my qualities [getting into the box], arriving from deep to score goals. But the important thing is the win, the rest is secondary.”

Source | Sport

Hopefully Paulinho can make a habit of scoring for Barcelona, after all the goal came from his first shot on target for the club (according to Opta) – not a bad start.

Credit too must go to Valverde for making the right changes, with both his substitutes scoring to turn the game round.

It could be argued he should perhaps have made more changes to his starting XI in the midst of three games in a week but he responded to the way the game was going.

Either way, it’s now four wins from four for Barca with Eibar up next on Tuesday at Camp Nou.

And Valverde has plenty of decisions to make ahead of the game, not least whether Paulinho has done enough to force his way into his starting XI.