If anything characterises Ernesto Valverde, the Barcelona manager that we know, at least, it's his compassion. As much as the press may push, he remains calm. He's had tough moments at the club, really tough. There have been times when he's seemed more in than out of the job. But he's still there, preparing for his third season leading the ship. This season the ship will have more parts than ever, and the demands will be even higher.
In previous seasons, Valverde's maybe not rotated enough and has 'burned out' his core of 13 or 14 players. That, in part, has been used to explain the painful losses at Roma and Liverpool. Things look set to change completely in 2019-20, though. The arrivals of De Jong and Griezmann, along with the players who already have Valverde's confidence (without even talking about Neymar) present a problem for the ‘Txingurri’.
A PUZZLE WITH DANGERS
A blesseed problem, depending on how you look at it. Almost every position has two options, starting in defence with the Umtiti-Lenglet dilemma. If, finally, the club bet on Todibo, Valverde knows that at 19 years and not much football last season behind him, he needs minutes. At right-back, Semedo had one foot out the club but has decided to stay with the condition of playing more. That could affect Sergi Roberto...
In midfield, if Rakitic stays, one of Valverde's favourites, he will have to fight for a place with De Jong and Arthur (plus Aleña). Fierce competition when you throw in Busquets and Arturo Vidal. In attack, Griezmann's arrival adds some bit to the internal battle. Messi and Suarez seem untouchable, Dembele's show good moments... It will not be easy to fit everyone in. There is a lot of competition, but there are also a lot of games. Valverde will have to rule. Egos will have to be managed, as will the mood of the dressing room.