Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has confirmed that Ernesto Valverde will remain as manager of the Camp Nou side next season.
Valverde is currently in the second year of his two-year deal, but does have an option in his contract for it to be extended for another season.
With speculation intensifying about the Catalan giants possibly cutting ties with the Spaniard, club president Bartomeu was quick to insist that Valverde retains the backing of the board and will remain in the dugout for the next campaign.
Speaking to ?Sport, Bartomeu revealed: “We don’t have any doubts here that Valverde will be the Barcelona coach next season. We will speak with him, of course, in time. That’s what we agreed.
“He’s a coach we have a lot of confidence in. He’s doing a great job. He’s an intelligent person, he knows Barcelona’s system of play and he manages the games in a way which we like.”
Valverde became ?Barcelona manager in May 2017 when he arrived from Athletic Bilbao to replace the outgoing Luis Enrique.
Despite winning ?La Liga in his first full season in charge and enjoying a 43-match unbeaten run in the league, the Spaniard was criticised for Barcelona’s shock exit in the Champions League quarter-final stage to AS Roma.
In his 88 games in charge of the Catalans, Valverde has presided over 61 victories, and this season has guided his team five points clear of ?Atletico Madrid in the league.
?Manchester City are confident of beating Chelsea and Juventus in the race for Barcelona starlet Ilaix Moriba in the near future.
Ilaix, who turns 16 on Saturday, is one of the club’s most exciting young players and has been a regular part of Barcelona Under-19’s UEFA Youth League campaign this season. Once he turns 16, he will be eligible to sign his first professional contract.
News of ?City’s desire to sign Ilaix comes from Spanish outlet ?Sport, who state that Pep Guardiola’s side have been heavily involved in negotiations with Ilaix in recent weeks and remain confident that they will be able to complete the deal soon.
?Barcelona have already offered Ilaix a lucrative contract as they attempt to convince him to say. Sport’s report states that the offer is one of the highest that Barcelona have ever offered a young player, as they seek to avoid losing another of their young stars.
However, it is thought that Barcelona’s offer will still be one of the lowest that Ilaix receives, and they may face an uphill battle to convince the young midfielder to stay at the club.
Both ?Juventus and ?Chelsea have also reportedly been negotiating for Ilaix’s signature, and it is thought that a move to the ?Serie A is very tempting to the 15-year-old. Juventus have been incredibly active in their negotiations in recent weeks, but City still remain confident that they will be able to persuade Ilaix to sign.
Should City manage to complete the deal, Ilaix would become one of several youngsters to have left Barcelona in favour of City. Midfielder Adrien Bernabe joined the club last summer, whilst the highly rated Eric Garcia moved to the Etihad in 2017.
Despite his young age, Ilaix has drawn comparisons to the likes of ?Paul Pogba and City icon Yaya Toure, due to his impressive combination of physicality and technical ability. It is thought that Barcelona feel he could become one of the finer talents to emerge from their academy in recent years, and they are desperate to convince Ilaix to remain.
Yaya Toure has insisted that Rafael Marquez was ten times better than former teammate and current Barcelona defender Gerard Pique.
Marquez made over 240 appearances for Barcelona between 2003 and 2010, winning plenty of silverware in the process, including two Champions League trophies and four La Liga titles. He recently hung up his boots after making history at the 2018 World Cup by becoming only the third player to have played in five separate tournaments.
In an appearance on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football, Toure was asked to put together his ‘ultimate XI’ from the players he had played with during his illustrious career, which included significant spells at ?Barcelona and ?Manchester City.
The team was rather bizarre, featuring a unique 3-1-6 formation that accommodated no less than five strikers, and there were plenty of omissions from Toure’s days at Barça that didn’t go unnoticed.
One player who didn’t feature was ?Pique and, when questioned about Marquez’ inclusion over the Barca veteran, Toure was happy to explain his decision, stating, as quoted by talkSPORT: “Marquez was a tough defender. I don’t think people remember him because he didn’t play in England.
“But maybe if you want to remember him, go to YouTube and you check Rafael Marquez, Barcelona, No 4, what a defender.
“He was 10 times better than Gerard Pique. Ten times better. Believe me. He was so so good. If you watch him on YouTube, you’ll see. I’ve been in love with him.”
Toure also opted to leave out the likes of Victor Valdes, Ronaldinho and Xavi, all of which achieved tremendous success during their time at Camp Nou.
?The Frenkie de Jong transfer saga appears to be nearing a resolution, with multiple reports indicating that Paris Saint-Germain are confident of signing the young Dutchman soon.
Manchester City and Barcelona were both strongly linked with De Jong as well, but PSG have reportedly stolen a march on their rivals as they seek to replace Adrien Rabiot, who they are hoping to offload before the end of the month.
Both ?Paris United and ?AS are reporting that a deal for De Jong is imminent. It is believed that he will move for a transfer fee of around €75m and will earn €8m in his first year, with that wage increasing annually over the course of a five-year contract.
In contrast to PSG’s optimism, Pep Guardiola appears resigned to missing out on De Jong. ?Manchester City want to sign a defensive midfielder as Fernandinho’s long-term replacement, but they will be forced to look at other options instead.
“If you are the only one who want players it’s easy,” Guardiola said, quoted by ?Goal, who still seem to believe that ?Barcelona are favourites for De Jong’s signature. “But if you want one and many, many clubs want him it’s more complicated.
“You have to be quicker and more efficient. The club knows it will be more expensive for everybody and it is what it is. But I’m not talking about the case of the Ajax player because he is an Ajax player.”
De Jong assured Ajax fans last week that he intended to stay at the club until the end of the season. The Amsterdam side are still in the Champions League and the Eredivisie title race, so they don’t want to lose one of their best players.
Whatever happens, ?Mundo Deportivo claims that Ajax want to clear things up before returning to Eredivisie action on Sunday. One way or another, a decision is near.