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BARCELONA

Barça: Valverde left twiddling thumbs during voluntary session

Ernesto Valverde, entrenador del Barcelona

RODOLFO MOLINA

DIARIO AS

The Barcelona boss handed his non-internationals a two-day holiday but invited any players who fancied it to train anyway; nobody turned up.

Ernesto Valverde was left at a loose end on Monday as he spent a voluntary training session at Barcelona’s Ciudad Deportiva on his own after nobody elected to turn up.

The Barcelona boss handed those players not on international duty a two-day break after the Leo Messi-inspired 4-1 victory over Betis in the Villamarín last weekend, but said that if any of his players fancied a bit of extra physical work or a tactical chat they could come in anyway. However, Valverde and his staff, who had been called in to work with any players that elected to take up the offer, were left to their own devices at an empty training ground.

Malcom and Boateng decide against chance to impress

Rafinha, Luis Suárez and Ousmane Dembélé are all recovering from injury and of the other 23 members of the first-team squad only Gerard Piqué, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Clément Lenglet and Malcom did not go on international duty.

In the cases of Piqué and Lenglet, who have been holding the centre of defence largely alone this season during Samuel Umtiti and Thomas Vermaelen’s lengthy injury absences, a couple of days off is well-justified. Malcom and Boateng, on the fringes of the squad, might have been expected to take the opportunity to impress their coach by taking up the offer but also decided to give it a skip, leaving Valverde and his staff with little to do but plan for the derby match against Espanyol on March 30.