Barcelona are behind Valverde, insists Abidal

By Sports Desk November 17, 2019

Ernesto Valverde has the backing of Barcelona's backroom staff according to sporting director Eric Abidal, who moved to distance the Blaugrana from "clubs that change coaches after bad results".

Barcelona are top of LaLiga, level on points with second-placed Real Madrid, but a 3-1 defeat at Levante and a goalless draw at home to Slavia Prague brought doubts over Valverde's leadership back to the fore among sections of the club's fanbase.

Ronaldo Koeman has been touted as a potential replacement for Valverde, should he leave the position he took up in May 2017.

Abidal admitted that Valverde's position is never far from the headlines, despite his back-to-back LaLiga triumphs, pointing to Barcelona's Champions League eliminations at the hands of Roma in 2017-18 and Liverpool in 2018-19 as sore points for supporters.

"There's always a debate about Valverde," Abidal told SPORT.

"The same thing that happened in Rome happened in Liverpool. Because of one result you can end up thinking that it's been a bad season. And for the way that it happened. 

"In these situations, you can think that the coach is to blame, but you have to analyse everything. What does the coach bring to the team and vice-versa?

"We support the coach and we give him all the information, although the day-to-day is his. There are clubs that change coaches after bad results, but you always have to look at the wider situation.

"If the coach sees that it can be improved, you have to back him."

Antoine Griezmann's performances have also been heavily scrutinised by the Camp Nou faithful since his €120million transfer from Atletico Madrid, and Abidal conceded the France international has not been at his best.

Griezmann has scored four goals in 11 league appearances and only one in his last six domestic outings, leaving him vulnerable to criticism from an expectant crowd.

Abidal backed the 28-year-old to improve, saying: "He knows it's complicated to adapt. Here the movements are different, but he's a player that can add a lot and the coach knows that. 

"Defensively he brings a lot and he can play in many positions. He came because he wants to win the Champions League.

"He knows he's not at his best and that's only fixed by working hard. Griezmann is an intelligent player and the important thing is to know what you can add to the team in the position you are playing."

Related items

  • Rumour Has It: Man City to offer two players for Koulibaly, Liverpool won't pursue Thiago Rumour Has It: Man City to offer two players for Koulibaly, Liverpool won't pursue Thiago

    Manchester City are reportedly ready to give up two players in a deal for Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly.

    Koulibaly, 29, has regularly been linked with a move from Naples, with several of Europe's biggest clubs apparently keen to land the centre-back.

    And City may know who they are ready to offer up as part of a deal.

     

    TOP STORY – MAN CITY PREPARED TO GIVE UP TWO PLAYERS FOR KOULIBALY

    Manchester City could use Nicolas Otamendi and Oleksandr Zinchenko in a deal for Napoli star Koulibaly, according to The Sun.

    The report says the Serie A club have already contacted City about Otamendi and Zinchenko.

    Napoli are said to want €100million for Koulibaly, who has also been linked to Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

    ROUND-UP

    - Liverpool have been repeatedly linked with a move for Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara over recent weeks. However, ESPN reports the Premier League champions will not pursue a deal for the former Barcelona star.

    - Speculation around Eric Garcia's future continues. According to Mundo Deportivo, the Manchester City defender is motivated to return to Barcelona, but the Premier League club have offered the 19-year-old a bumper contract, with his current deal expiring in 2022.

    - Jonathan Ikone is seemingly attracting some interest. Le 10 Sport reports Chelsea and Inter are interested in the Lille forward. Ikone scored three goals and provided six assists in 28 Ligue 1 games in 2019-20.

    - Will Roma get a deal done for Chris Smalling? Gianluca Di Marzio says Roma are in negotiations with Manchester United to make the defender's move permanent. The report says Roma's offer of €3m (£2.7m) to extend the loan for a season before a €15m (£13.4m) offer to make the move permanent has been deemed too low.

    - Mesut Ozil wants to see out his contract at Arsenal, with his deal expiring in 2021. The Sun reports the attacker has told friends he will only consider playing in MLS or the Turkish Super Lig after he leaves Arsenal.

    - Paris Saint-Germain could be looking to strengthen while weakening one of their Ligue 1 rivals. Foot Mercato reports PSG are interested in Lyon and France defender Leo Dubois.

  • Zidane unsure if James will play for Real Madrid again Zidane unsure if James will play for Real Madrid again

    Zinedine Zidane is unsure if James Rodriguez will play for Real Madrid ever again.

    James, 28, has been linked with a move away from Madrid and was left out of the squad for Friday's 2-0 LaLiga win over Deportivo Alaves.

    It marked the second straight game in which the Colombia international has not been in the squad.

    Asked if James would play for Madrid again, Zidane told a news conference: "I don't know."

    James arrived at Madrid from Monaco in 2014, but spent the previous two seasons on loan at Bayern Munich.

    He has played just 14 games this campaign, scoring one goal.

  • Zidane hails 'phenomenal' Courtois after another clean sheet Zidane hails 'phenomenal' Courtois after another clean sheet

    Zinedine Zidane praised the "phenomenal" Thibaut Courtois after Real Madrid took another step towards the LaLiga title with a win over Deportivo Alaves.

    Madrid kept a clean sheet for the fifth straight game, recording a 2-0 win on Friday to move four points clear of rivals Barcelona with three games remaining.

    Zidane lauded Courtois, who made four saves in Madrid's win as Karim Benzema netted a penalty before Marco Asensio's second-half goal.

    "He has a very big influence. He is our goalkeeper, what he is doing every game is phenomenal," Madrid coach Zidane told a news conference, via AS.

    "It is a matter for everyone when it comes to defending … today, he [Courtois] has been good for us with two or three stops, and then the strength of the entire team.

    "We have to continue like this."

    Madrid scored a penalty for the third straight game, while the VAR was needed to award Asensio's goal after it was initially ruled out due to an offside decision against Benzema.

    As another clean sheet helped Madrid, Zidane said he was happy with his team, who are away to Granada on Monday.

    "I'm not worried because the important thing is to win matches," he said.

    "We didn't score four or five goals, but because there is an opponent who defends. We scored two goals, one very beautiful in play.

    "I am happy and calm with what we are doing."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.