August 24, 2019
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Barcelona coach: I'm happy with the squad I have

Barcelona, Aug 15 (efe-epa).- FC Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said Thursday that he is satisfied with the players he has as the team prepares for the 2019-2020 LaLiga kickoff amid reports the Catalan club is still talking to Paris Saint-Germain about a deal to bring Neymar back to Barça.

The Spaniard expressed annoyance that the LaLiga transfer window will remain open until Sept. 2, more than two weeks after Friday's season-opener.

"It's inconvenient. It's not logical," Valverde told a press conference at the Barcelona training facility.

"Normally, when the league starts, the (transfer) market stops. It's not normal that the market is (still) open," he said, adding that clubs should play with their current rosters until the winter transfer window.

As for the months of speculation about Neymar's possible return to Barça, Valverde said that he was not a party to those discussions.

"I'm on the sidelines. I remain focused on the team and the players I have," he stressed. "I respect the players of the other teams. We will see what happens. I'm very happy with the squad I have."

Turning to Friday's contest, Valverde described facing Athletic Club at San Mames stadium in Bilbao as a "difficult" way to begin Barcelona's quest for a third straight LaLiga crown.

"We know the potential of Athletic. They've maintained the dynamics of last year and we'll have to be focused," he said, praising the Bilbao side's effective use of the high press.

Valverde, 55, is hoping to follow in the footsteps of predecessors Pep Guardiola and Johan Cruyff by becoming only the third coach in Barcelona history to win the domestic title three times in row (the late Dutch legend did it four times in succession).

"Our goal is to repeat what we did last year in the league. We know that continuing to win is difficult, but we will try to achieve it," Valverde said.

"The team has done well in this pre-season. I'm happy."

Meanwhile, Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi is still doubtful for Friday's opener due to a calf injury, with the coach confirming he will not include the Argentine forward in the roster.

"We're not going to put any player at risk and especially Leo. He's not trained with the team or played yet. Let's wait a little," Valverde said. EFE-EPA

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