Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has ruled out the prospect of Manchester United – or any other club – singing midfielder Sergi Roberto this summer.
The Spaniard enjoyed his finest season yet in a Barcelona shirt since making his debut for the first team back in 2010, managing 47 appearances under Luis Enrique, but his place in the starting XI has come under threat following Valverde’s arrival. The former Athletic Bilbao boss has brought in Nelson Semedo at right back – Roberto’s main position last season – and landed the services of Paulinho (yes, that Paulinho), further intensifying competition in midfield ahead of the 2017/18 campaign.
His murky predicament was only accentuated by seeing Aleix Vidal, despite having not played since February, filling in at right back against Real Madrid on Sunday, prompting the Spaniard to consider his long-term future. And United, along with Chelsea, Juventus and AC Milan, have in turn expressed a willingness to activate his €40m release clause before the window shuts.
But Valverde, speaking ahead of his side’s Supercopa clash with Real Madrid, made it clear that Roberto – whilst not guaranteed to feature in every game – was an integral part of his plans for this season.
“Of course, I am absolutely counting on him,” he said.
“In some games he will be a major player and in some games no, but he remains an important player.”