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Valverde indicates no more January arrivals for Barca

Barcelona (AFP) – Ernesto Valverde believes Barcelona will not make any more signings this month after Kevin-Prince Boateng was officially unveiled at the Camp Nou on Tuesday.

Boateng has moved to Barca from Italian side Sassuolo on a six-month loan deal, worth an initial one million euros ($1.137 million), with the option to buy for eight million euros in the summer.

The 31-year-old is the club’s second January signing after defender Jeison Murillo also joined on loan from Valencia.

“I don’t believe there will be any more arrivals,” Valverde said at a press conference on Tuesday. “Although of course you can never be 100 percent sure.”

However, Valverde admitted Denis Suarez could be allowed to leave and also appeared unsure about the future of Malcom.

“It’s true, it’s possible Denis will leave but I don’t know what will happen,” Valverde said.

On Malcom, he added: “Until the 31st (of January) we can’t say anything for sure but we are not going to be left short of players. He has to fight to play more. We expect a lot from him.”

Boateng will provide cover up front for Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi after Munir El Haddadi was sold to Sevilla earlier this month.

Barcelona have already played 31 games this season and, as well as leading the title race in La Liga, are into the latter stages of the Champions League and Copa del Rey.

“I have not talked to the coach,” Boateng said at a press conference earlier on Tuesday. “But I know I have not come to play in the starting line-up because there are incredible players in this team. I’m here because of my experience and to help.”

– Boateng cover for Suarez –

Valverde later confirmed the plan will be for Boateng to provide cover for Suarez. “He has been brought in above all as a number 9,” Valverde said. “In case there is a problem with Luis Suarez.”

Boateng, who turns 32 in March, has represented 10 different clubs including AC Milan, Borussia Dortmund, Tottenham and Portsmouth. He also has experience of La Liga, having spent a season at La Palmas in 2016-17.

Deployed more as an attacking midfielder earlier in his career, he believes he is now best suited to the role of striker.

“At my age, the role of number nine is perfect for me,” he said. “I think it’s a plus that I can play in different positions but I feel very comfortable as a number nine.” 

Boateng added: “I’m here to play well and to try to stay for more years here. That’s my goal.” 

Alongside Boateng was Barcelona’s sporting director Eric Abidal, who was asked about the club’s pursuit of Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong.

The 21-year-old is considered one of the most talented youngsters in Europe.

“This question has to be asked to the player, he knows there is interest from many clubs and he will make his decision,” Abidal said. “We can only wait, like everyone else.” 

Barcelona play Sevilla in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-finals on Wednesday, after beting Leganes in controversial circumstances last week.

Leganes claim Barca defender Juan Brandariz “Chumi”, who played in the first leg, should have been suspended.

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) have rejected the appeal but Leganes said on Monday they plan to take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

“It is not in our hands,” Valverde said. “We have done what we thought we should do, the law is there and we prepared for the game. I do not have much to say about it.”

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