No intention to replace Thomas Vermaelen: Luis Enrique
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has insisted he has no intention of signing a replacement for the injured Thomas Vermaelen after the Belgian was ruled out for up to five months.
Madrid: Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has insisted he has no intention of signing a replacement for the injured Thomas Vermaelen after the Belgian was ruled out for up to five months.
The former Arsenal captain has yet to make his competitive debut for the Catalans since sealing a reported 19 million-euro (£15m, $23.7m) deal from the Premier League side in August and will have an operation on his troublesome right hamstring next week.
Barca are still fighting a ban from signing players in the next two transfer windows from FIFA for irregularities in the signing of players under the age of 16.
However, reports in the Spanish press claimed the club could seek special dispensation from the Spanish Football Federation to sign someone if the injury sidelines Vermaelen for a period of five months or more.
However, Luis Enrique denied those claims and insisted Vermaelen will in time prove his worth to the club.
"In football injuries are normal and players have to go through these processes. In Thomas`s case ever since he arrived at the club," he said on Saturday.
"The team is fine and we have to support the player with the hope that he can recover as quickly as possible and be with us. There is no intention to strengthen in principle, but the club may have other plans.
"We don`t have any doubts that Vermaelen will offer us a lot."
There was better news on the injury front for Barca as Andres Iniesta was declared fit to play by the club`s medical staff for the first time in over a month since he was injured in the 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid at the end of October.
His return means Vermaelen is the only player unavailable to Luis Enrique as Barca go to Valencia looking to maintain their fine form in thrashing Sevilla and APOEL in the past week by becoming the first team to win at Mestalla this season.
"Valencia are a difficult opponent," added the coach, with Valencia starting the weekend in fourth place, four points behind Barca in second.
"They are playing at a much higher level than in recent seasons. If you win, it is a great boost for the team, but we start every game with the same objective. Whether we win or lose it won`t be definitive in the title race."