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"Neymar? I am very happy with the current squad"

Pin Barcelona's Ernesto Valverde will not be distracted by rumours surrounding Neymar. GOAL
Barcelona's Ernesto Valverde will not be distracted by rumours surrounding Neymar. GOAL

"Neymar? I am very happy with the current squad"

BeSoccer by BeSoccer @besoccer_com - 0 +32k

Speculation over Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar's future continues, but Barcelona's Ernesto Valverde will not be distracted as he tried to focus back on Barcelona's la Liga start against Athletic Bilbao.

"Of course, it's a hard game to start with. We know the potential Athletic Bilbao have, especially at home in San Mamés", said the Barcelona coach ahead of their Liga debut this Friday. 

"It's a team that really pressures at the top of the field, in one of those visits that are always marked in the calendar as one of the hardest in La Liga. Obviously, we want to start it off on the right foot, and we're going to try and go for our third consecutive La Liga win, something that has rarelty been done before". 

Only a few minutes had gone past when the Barcelona manager was asked about Barcelona's links with Neymar. But as he has done on previous occasions, Ernesto Valverde refused to speak about the possibility of Barcelona bringing back Neymar, who is unsettled at Paris Saint-Germain.

PSG sporting director Leonardo has confirmed the French club will listen to offers for the Brazil international, who left Barca in a world-record €222million deal two years ago.

Neymar is reported to favour a switch to Camp Nou, where Lionel Messi is said to be pushing for his return, but LaLiga rivals Real Madrid are also rumoured to be interested in the 27-year-old.

Reports have claimed Barca and Madrid have both had offers rejected by PSG, whose fans displayed banners criticising Neymar during their first Ligue 1 game of the season, against Nimes last Sunday.

But Valverde, who has led Barca to the LaLiga title in each of his two seasons in charge, is unwilling to allow the ongoing saga to act as a distraction ahead of the new campaign.

"I'm outside all these matters and focusing on coaching the team, I have enough to think about ahead of the game without thinking about players from other teams," Valverde told reporters on Thursday. 

"We need to respect players that play for other clubs, he belongs to Paris Saint-Germain right now so no, I have nothing to comment on right now.

"I have a squad to consider and I think about them for tomorrow, what happens after that is a problem for the future. I'm very happy with the squad and I have no reason to talk about players in other teams."

"I'm the coach, my job is to adapt to the players I've got. At a club like this there are always mixed opinions."

It has been suggested Barca have offered Ivan Rakitic as a makeweight in a potential deal, but Valverde hopes the Croatia midfielder remains in Spain.

"He's a very important player for us, he has been for my two years here," he added. "I hope he will continue doing so."

Despite Barcelona's season getting under way at Athletic Bilbao on Friday, LaLiga's transfer window remains open. Valverde admits he would rather be sure of his squad ahead of the big kick-off.

"Yes it [the transfer window] is a problem, it's not logical," he said. "We had a similar situation last season, you want to know your squad when you start the league."

"It's not a sensible situation that the market is still open when the league is starting. The team that starts the league might not finish it and we have 15 days of uncertainty ahead."

"But anyway, I have to concentrate on the squad I have. It would be nice if it was definitive, but I don't know yet."

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