Valverde says Barça can cope without Neymar
The Barcelona coach spoke to the press ahead of his competitive debut in the Camp Nou dugout, against LaLiga champions Real Madrid.
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde is confident his side can cope without Neymar against La Liga champions Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup.
Valverde has 'a lot of players' ready
Paris Saint-Germain raided Barcelona for the Brazilian winger earlier in August, leaving the Catalans with €222m but a gaping hole in their strike force.
Barcelona take on rivals Real on Sunday in the Super Cup first leg with no replacement yet for the Brazilian striker, although they are linked to Borussia Dortmund's Ousmane Dembélé and Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho.
"For Neymar's absence I have a lot of players who are ready to play," Valverde told a news conference on Saturday. "You have to look forward, not back."
Deulofeu may not feature
The former Athletic Bilbao manager, however, doubts whether Gerard Deulofeu is ready to fill the gap following his recent return from injury.
Barcelona brought Deulofeu back from Everton this summer but he missed the club's pre-season tour with a reported muscle strain and has featured in only one friendly.
"I like the understanding between Deulofeu with (Jordi) Alba and (Lionel) Messi, but we only have one reference point, the Gamper (trophy) against Chapecoense. It's very soon," said Valverde.
Instead the coach might look to Paco Alcácer to play on the left, or change formation from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 to match Real Madrid, and incorporate an extra midfielder, which could be Sergi Roberto, whom Valverde praised.
Piqúe's Neymar tweet explained
Replacing Neymar in the long term is a difficult task, though, and defender Gerard Piqué told a news conference of his desperate attempt to get him to stay.
Pique tweeted a picture of himself and Neymar with the caption, "he's staying", little over a week before the Brazilian departed.
"When I wrote the ‘he’s staying’ tweet, I knew 100% that he was leaving," he said."
"I wanted to use social media because that’s an instrument I have. I wanted to help the club, and at least I tried, even though I knew he had made his decision."