Ernesto Valverde: "Lionel Messi is not important"

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde on Wednesday played down the importance of the fact that striker Lionel Messi has not played any of the two friendlies with Argentina during his European tour. "Messi ended the last game against Athletic and it's true that he has a little trouble, but we think it's not important, I'm calm," he said today.

The coach from Extremadura called on the media to wait for the player to arrive tomorrow at the Ciudad Deportiva and be examined by the medical services of the club: "Let's see what he has exactly, we will not worry ahead of time". Nor did he show any concern about Gerard Piqué's gesture of touching his right knee during the friendly Spain-Argentina match on Tuesday.

"When I saw him, I thought what everyone: that hurt him," ironically Valverde, who also responded with humor when asked about the whistles he received at the beginning of the game the Catalan central, who ended up cheering and responded with applause to the fans to be replaced. "I do not have anything to say about that, in fact, I did not hear it, because I watch TV without volume, but I know that it takes it well," he said.

With the same serenity, Valverde valued the possibility that Messi could arrive emotionally touched after Spain went to the albiceleste (6-1). "Argentina only lost a friendly match, the World Cup has not started yet, and all the players we have will not be able to win the World Cup," he recalled. Ernesto Valverde made the remarks during the presentation of the 14th edition of the book 'Relatos Solidarios del Deporte', which on this occasion will raise funds for the NGO Proactiva Open Arms, whose main mission is to rescue refugees arriving in Europe from the Mediterranean Sea. Check to get the best odds on your favourite football matches.

But as a veteran of major tournaments as a player - including seeing Paul Gascoigne's heartbreak up close in 1998 - the England boss knows better than most the sensitives surrounding selection. "It's very important," he said. "But I think already across this week, guys would have a pretty good idea of where they sit. It's about managing expectations, I suppose.

"Those of us who live in the world of football are used to being an example to many people who follow us consider us heroes because we won championships or participated in finals, but the heroes are those anonymous people who collaborate with Proactiva Open Arms and are playing life every day to help people survive, "said Valverde. The coach of the Catalan team, who sponsors this new edition of the solidarity book written annually by sports journalists, has been photographed with Óscar Camps, founder of Proactiva Open Arms, to support this cause, "where a lot of people are leaving their skin for the the rest".

Camps, who has lamented that Italy has seized the NGO's boat accusing him of promoting illegal immigration, has denounced that "right now saving lives at sea is not a priority for the European Union." For this reason, he thanked Valverde for his support, "because football has a lot of visibility and any help is small"