Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde defends Arturo Vidal signing


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SAN JOSE, Calif. — Ernesto Valverde hit back at criticism of Barcelona’s signing of Arturo Vidal, saying that it’s important for the club to have different types of midfielders in the squad.

Barca reached an agreement for the signing of Vidal from Bayern Munich on Friday in a deal worth around €20 million but the transfer has not been universally celebrated.

Vidal’s age — he turned 31 earlier this year — and the fact he has only just returned from a four-month injury layoff have been used to condemn the deal. There have also been complaints that the Chile international does not fit the typical protocol of a Barca midfielder, but Valverde argues that works in his favour.

“Vidal is someone we hope can add energy in midfield,” the Barca coach said in a news conference at Levi’s Stadium on Friday. “We know he has a lot of experience. The amount of games he’s played for his previous teams is very good. He has a big presence and he doesn’t disappear on the pitch.

“It’s the same as with Paulinho [last summer]. He has a different profile to what we already have, which is important. There was lots of controversy over the Paulinho deal last year and lots of criticism before he played one minute — and then he was a really good player for us.

“At a club like ours, there’s room for everything, for all types of players. Some may appear not to fit at first, but we’re trying to enrich our team [with different profiles].”

Vidal becomes Barca’s fourth signing of the summer following the arrivals of Arthur Melo, Clement Lenglet and Malcom. Valverde had gone on record saying he wanted another midfielder before the signing of Vidal and he says he’s still open bringing in more players if the right opportunities come up.

“We are Barcelona and, like all teams, we’re open to improving our team,” he added. “I don’t know right now [if there will be more signings] but there’s a long way to go in the transfer window.”

Manchester United’s Paul Pogba has been linked with the club, with reports claiming Barca’s sporting director Eric Abidal met with the midfielder this week, but Valverde would not be drawn on speculation.

“Pogba’s a great player but he plays for another team,” Valverde said. “We’re always very respectful with the players that play for other clubs.

“There are a lot of names out there. They’re all good players but we respect the players themselves and the teams they’re playing for currently [by not commenting].”

Likewise, he was reluctant to speak about outgoings following the sales of Lucas Digne and Aleix Vidal to Everton and Sevilla respectively.

Rafinha and Jasper Cillessen have both been linked with moves away from Camp Nou and while Valverde didn’t deny that they could leave, he also pointed out that they are “Barca players at the moment” and will both feature against AC Milan on Saturday.

Milan represent Barca’s final game in the Intenational Champions Cup following matches against Tottenham and Roma and they return to Spain on Sunday to prepare for next weekend’s Spanish Super Cup against Sevilla.

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