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BARCELONA

Valverde gives first assessment of new signings

The Barcelona coach says there is a lot expected at Camp Nou from new signings Antoine Griezmann, Frenkie De Jong and Neto.

Valverde gives first assessment of new signings

As the Neymar saga continues to play out, Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde has given his first assessment of the players that have so far arrived at Camp Nou this summer in an interview with Barça TV.

Valverde will bring three new players on the pre-season tour to Japan – Antoine Griezmann, Frenkie De Jong and goalkeeper Neto – and stated a lot is expected from these new signings ahead of next season’s campaign, where the club’s primary objective will be to bring an end to the Champions League heartache of recent years.

"They are three important signings and we expect to get a lot out of them," said the Barça coach.

"We know they generate excitement among our fans. Our objective is that they get into the dynamic of the team soon.”

Frenkie De Jong

Barcelona’s first signing of 2019 was Frenkie de Jong, the much sought-after Ajax midfielder who joined the club for 75 million euros in January before seeing out the rest of last season with the Dutch champions.

The 21-year-old playmaker has been likened to Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta, and, after turning down the squad number of Dutch legend Johan Cryuff, is expected to become a legacy player at Camp Nou over the coming years.

"He is a player who played at a great level in recent years, especially last year. I hope he will offer us something fresh in the centre of the pitch,” said Valverde. “He is a project for the future years’ head, with the quality and style that we expect him to give to the team.”

Antoine Griezmann

The Barcelona boss was equally as positive in his evaluation of Antoine Griezmann, who signed from Atlético Madrid last week for 120 million euros (although Atlético are disputing that figure and demanding 200 million euros), and is viewed as a more immediate project than the young Dutch star.

"He is a more settled player than De Jong, with a lot of experience in LaLiga. He is a player who fills the space quickly and is decisive near the goal. And we know how much a player like that costs, and what a player like that is worth and what he gives you in return,” explained Valverde.

"We have high hopes for him, He is young but with a lot of experience that leads us to expect him to perform right away."

Neto

There was not as much media hype surrounding Barcelona’s third signing, Brazilian goalkeeper Neto, who arrived from Valencia for 26 million euros. But Valverde assured the 29-year-old will play an important role as Marc Ter Stegen’s understudy, replacing former number two Jasper Cillesen, who has gone the other way to Valencia. 

"Neto is an experienced player too. He's an insurance policy in goal and we think he is the ideal compliment to Marc while [20-year-old keeper] Iñaki [Peña] keeps improving.”

Valverde’s men continue with their preparations at their Barcelona training base ahead of their upcoming trip to Japan to face Chelsea and Andres Iniesta’s Vissel Kobe, before they return to the Catalan capital to face Arsenal at Camp Nou.