Sunday, August 18, 2019

Valverde open to arrivals amid De Jong tug-of-war

SoccerNews in La Liga 16 Jan 2019

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Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde is open to welcoming new recruits in January but remains tight-lipped over the possibility of signing Frenkie de Jong.

Reports in Spain suggest Paris Saint-Germain have emerged as the frontrunners for Ajax midfielder De Jong, who has also attracted interest from Manchester City.

The 21-year-old Netherlands international is not expected to leave the Eredivisie until the end of the season and Valverde dismissed the suggestion the pair had held discussions.

The Barca boss is, however, prepared to strengthen his squad this month, having previously stated his preference to “close the window” following the capture of Jeison Murillo on loan from Valencia.

“Whether De Jong ends up at PSG or any other place, I can’t determine the future,” Valverde said.

“He’s a great player and we’ll see where he ends up. Right now he plays for Ajax and we try not to talk about players that are playing for other teams.

“I haven’t spoken to any player. Absolutely not. And nobody speaks on behalf of me.

“We would like to reinforce what we have and we have players already with us. If it’s possible to improve the team we will and if we can’t then we won’t. We have to worry about the players that are here.”

The LaLiga champions are said to be in the market for a new striker in order to provide support to Luis Suarez, the squad’s lone natural centre-forward in the aftermath of Paco Alcacer’s departure to Borussia Dortmund.

Girona forward Cristhian Stuani and Tottenham target man Fernando Llorente have both been linked, although Valverde stressed that other members of his squad are capable of operating centrally.

“We have Luis Suarez. Other players we have can play in that position. You don’t have to be labelled a classic striker,” he said.

“If we need another player to play in that position we’ll try it.”

Barca will attempt to overturn a 2-1 deficit when they host Levante in the second leg of their Copa del Rey last-16 tie on Thursday.

Valverde declined to confirm whether Lionel Messi, who did not play in the first leg, would feature at Camp Nou.

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