Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has warned his side not to rest on their laurels ahead of Sunday’s clash with a “revitalised” Alaves at the Nou Camp. Barca continued their march towards a possible trophy treble in midweek when they defeated local rivals Espanyol to reach the Copa del Rey semi-finals. With an 11-point lead at the top of LaLiga and a Champions League last-16 tie against Chelsea coming up next month, things are looking good for the Catalan giants. Valverde is taking nothing for granted though, and was keen to stress that his side could still come unstuck if they start to ease off. He told a press conference: “I don’t think our lead in the league is sufficient or allows us to look at other things. If we start to think like that then that lead will disappear.”
Lionel Messi is delighted that Barcelona finally sealed the signing of Philippe Coutinho. However, the Argentinian ace admits he wish the Brazilian playmaker had made the move last summer. Barcelona failed with a flurry of bids for the then Liverpool star in the previous transfer window. But the Catalans finally got their man this time around after they put together a package worth £145million to secure his signature. Ernesto Valverde’s men have established a 19-point lead over rivals Real Madrid and are still in the Copa del Rey and Champions League. However, Messi admits he wished Coutinho was with them from the start of the campaign so he could compete in Europe before becoming cup-tied with the Reds. He said: “In our case both Coutinho and Yerry [Mina] already tried to bring the club to the summer market and it could not be.
“Now they have come in the winter, and we are happy that they are with us, although others, like [Javier] Mascherano, have left “
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