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Valverde discusses Riqui Puig and Dembele’s role this season

Valverde discusses Riqui Puig and Dembele’s role this season

Ernesto Valverde has discussed the rise of young midfielder Riqui Puig and the impact that Ousmane Dembele could have this coming season at Barcelona.

Both teams head to Morocco on Sunday to face off in a rare one-legged tie with Sevilla having played more friendlies and competitive fixtures in the Europa League.

Pablo Machin’s side have been in good form over pre-season and a 1-0 win over Zalgiris in their Europa League qualifier on Thursday saw them warm up for the task against Barca.

Barca have been busy too, but they have only just seen the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and their Spanish contingent return to training – following the World Cup in Russia.

A whole host of B-team players have been in action, whilst fringe players such as Rafinha and Munir El Haddadi have been a big part of their pre-season thus far.

And, Valverde has opened up about B-team players Marc Cucurella, Miranda and Puig.

“Only time will tell with Miranda and Cucurella because I took them of both to our preseason tour.

“Now Miranda is with us, but performances will dictate who will be in the squad. As for Riqui Puig, my idea hasn’t changed because of the media noise, not at all.

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“He has rhythm and great qualities, but everything needs time. You need to have patience and see how things go in real competition, which isn’t the same as the friendlies.”

Sunday evening’s game is likely to be an exciting affair, given that unlike recent years – it will now be determined over one leg and whilst being quizzed on a number of players, Valverde was quick to back the likes of new signing Arturo Vidal and Dembele, who has been linked with a summer exit.

“Arturo Vidal looks convincing. He’s fine, he came in after months of not playing because of his injury but has arrived in good shape.

“He has to integrate into our style of play but if the Coach plays him, he’ll have to play. I’m counting on Dembele and not thinking about players leaving.”

You can catch all the action via our website and our various social media channels from 8pm on Sunday evening.