Barcelona: Valverde set to utilise midfield options against Valladolid
Arthur's absence for Tuesday's game means the Barça coach will turn to the depth of his squad, and players with uncertain futures at the club.
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde praised Arthur in Monday's pre-match press conference then omitted him from the squad. This is not a contradiction, however; in a week of matches against Valladolid, Levante and Slavia Prague and a fixture pile-up of eight games in less than a month after the international break, Barcelona and Valverde will need to get the most out of their midfield options.
Barcelona's regular midfield
So far this season, there are three certain starters in Valverde's midfield: De Jong, who on Tuesday will reach 1,000 minutes in official games in a Barça shirt (he's currently played 978), Busquets (728') and Arthur (690'), followed by Sergi Roberto, although his 774 minutes are spread between the midfield and full-back positions.
Vidal, Rakitic and Aleñá
Arturo Vidal, for instance, has only had a bit-part role this season in 209 minutes played, despite being a key player in Barça's game against Inter Milan - a potential suitor in the winter transfer window for both the Chilean and Rakitic, who has played a mere 203 minutes, a big surprise and a situation that was unforeseen at the start of the campaign. Aleñá, currently under Spurs's radar, is another option but one Valverde clearly does not fancy. "Probably the way he trains, giving everything, he deserves more minutes than he's had," Valverde admittted on Monday.
Undoubtedly, Vidal, Rakitic and Aleñá will be among the stories of the January window, but while they remain at the club Valverde intends to utilise their qualities given that he will need to rotate to rest Arthur and Busquets.
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