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Valverde keen to keep Barca focus on Copa final, not his future

Lionel Messi, meanwhile, claimed his sixth European Golden Shoe on Friday night.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde

ERNESTO VALVERDE INSISTED there has been enough talk about his future ahead of Barcelona’s Copa del Rey final against Valencia.

Barca can complete a second consecutive double under Valverde by defeating Valencia in Seville on Saturday, but pressure has built on the head coach since their latest Champions League collapse away at Liverpool.

Having let a 4-1 first-leg lead slip in the quarter-finals against Roma last year, the Blaugrana saw a 3-0 advantage overturned by Jurgen Klopp’s side in the last four this season.

President Josep Maria Bartomeu has offered Valverde his backing, though, while captain Lionel Messi also spoke out in support of the coach on Friday.

Valverde concedes he must accept some responsibility for a defeat that has overshadowed their success this season, but he is keen to set the topic aside until after the final.

“I do not think too much about my future,” he told a news conference. “The only thing that worries me is to win [against Valencia]. Every day is a battle.

“If you look around the coaches in LaLiga, we are part of the show. We all get ups and downs. You only have to see what happened to [Valencia coach] Marcelino, who had a moment, or [Real] Madrid changing coach.

I do not know about Leo Messi defending me. We are all aware that, when there is an elimination, we must all take responsibility, the players, the coaches, all of us. We are hurt, but we have to look forwards and face the consequences again.

“I do not feel any more pressure. Why would I? I’ve always said that the club respects my work and it’s always been like that. I have no complaints from the president or the board.”

Liverpool v Barcelona - UEFA Champions League - Semi Final - Second Leg - Anfield Valverde watches on as Barcelona let a 3-0 aggregate lead slip at Anfield. Source: Peter Byrne

Pushed further on the issue, Valverde told reporters he had provided all the answers required on his future.

Meanwhile, the coach was expecting Nelson Semedo and Arthur to train ahead of the final and was hopeful on the fitness of Philippe Coutinho.

Valverde insisted he knew nothing in relation to the report the final will be Jasper Cillessen’s last match for the club amid reported interest from Benfica.

Messi Magic

Messi, meanwhile, claimed his sixth European Golden Shoe thanks to his 36 La Liga goals for the Spanish champions.

The Argentine clinched the award – handed to the player with the most league goals in any of Europe’s top-flight leagues – for the third consecutive year, beating Kylian Mbappe by three following Paris Saint-Germain’s defeat Friday.

Spain Soccer La Liga Lionel Messi scored 36 league goals this season. Source: Ion Alcoba

Mbappe needed to score five goals in PSG’s Ligue 1 finale to collect the Golden Shoe, however, the French sensation could only manage one in a 3-1 loss at Reims.

Messi now has two more Golden Shoes than Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, who last won the award in 2014-15.

The 31-year-old led Barca to back-to-back LaLiga titles ahead of Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid this season.

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