- Title: Unfit Messi ruled out of season opener against Bilbao
- Date: 15th August 2019
- Summary: BARCELONA, SPAIN (AUGUST 15, 2019) (REUTERS) FC BARCELONA SQUAD MEMBERS TAKING TO PRACTICE PITCH BARCELONA DEFENDER, ANTOINE GRIEZMANN, AND FORWARD, OUSMANE DEMBELE, ENTERING PITCH AND SPEAKING TO EACH OTHER FC BARCELONA COACH, ERNESTO VALVERDE, AND OTHER STAFF DURING TRAINING SESSION 4, FORWARD, LUIS SUAREZ, ENTERING PITCH VARIOUS OF FC BARCELONA SQUAD TRAINING AND RUNNING DRILLS WIDE OF TEAM TRAINING SESSION DEMBELE WALKING THROUGH HUDDLE OF TEAM MATES VALVERDE ARRIVING FOR NEWS CONFERENCE NEWS CONFERENCE IN PROGRESS (SOUNDBITE) (SPANISH) FC BARCELONA COACH, ERNESTO VALVERDE, SAYING: "We are not going to risk any of the players, much less Leo. We will see how does. He still hasn't returned to training with the team and while we are happy with his progress, individual training is very different to playing a match. We're going to wait a bit, but he is recovering well and we are going to wait and see." SQUAD TRAINING (SOUNDBITE) (SPANISH) FC BARCELONA COACH, ERNESTO VALVERDE, SAYING: "I am on the margin regarding all these concerns. I feel fully involved in the team and with the players I have to face this match. I don't need to worry about players in other teams simply out of respect for other teams and players that don't belong to us and are in other teams. Neymar is with Paris Saint Germain, and we will see what happens." TRAINING SESSION IN PROGRESS (SOUNDBITE) (SPANISH) FC BARCELONA COACH, ERNESTO VALVERDE, SAYING: "We want to start the championship on a positive note. We want to try and win a third consecutive Liga. I think it hasn't happened many times in the club's history." TEAM MEMBERS TRAINING (SOUNDBITE) (SPANISH) FC BARCELONA COACH, ERNESTO VALVERDE, SAYING: "This war on the timings of what days that federation clubs are involved in seems incredible to me. I think that the image of the competition, La Liga and the federations gets a little polluted with all of this. Concerning playing on Fridays or Mondays, it doesn't matter to us at all. I know that Mondays are a problem for supporters but what we need to understand that the clubs benefit from it which means the supporters also benefit from it." TRAINING SESSION IN PROGRESS VALVERDE LEAVING NEWS CONFERENCE
- Embargoed: 29th August 2019 18:50
- Keywords: Barcelona Ernesto Valverde Lionel Messi Neymar
- Location: BARCELONA, SPAIN
- City: BARCELONA, SPAIN
- Country: Spain
- Topics: Soccer,Sport
- Reuters ID: LVA001ASBY3B3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said he would not risk an unfit Lionel Messi in Friday's (August 16) La Liga opener against Athletic Bilbao and continued to be non committal about Neymar re-joining the club from Paris St Germain.
Barca's all-time top scorer and captain Messi injured his calf in training before his side's brief pre-season tour of the United States and has not yet returned to full training a day before his side visit Athletic.
Valverde refused to answer questions about the club's interest in Neymar and said he was fully committed to his team and not thinking about players who don't belong to his FC Barcelona.
Barca have spent over 200 million euros on signings including Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann but continue to be linked with a second swoop for Neymar, two years after he left the Catalans for PSG for a world record 222 million euros ($246 million).
(Production: May Ponzo)
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