Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Martino lauds 'connection' between Neymar and Messi

The coach says Carles Puyol's fitness worries him more than Cesc Fabregas transfer rumors, while revealing he will not ask Victor Valdes to stay
Barcelona boss Gerardo Martino has lauded the "connection" between Lionel Messi and Neymar following the side's 7-1 win over Thailand on Wednesday.

The Brazilian opened the scoring before the Argentine added two goals and Pedro grabbed a hat trick, with Alexis Sanchez adding a final strike just after halftime.

Martino was pleased that his top players are showing fine form in preseason, irrespective of the opposition's quality, and claims the clash further encouraged him as La Liga creeps nearer to kicking off.

"Messi and Neymar combined well and played in different areas of the pitch," he told reporters after the match.

"The connection between Neymar and Leo was the most interesting thing about the game and they played as well as we expected. They combined well and scored goals, but they also combined with other players, which is what you expect at this level.

"Regardless of the quality of the opposition, we are showing positive signs in recovering the ball, pressing high up the pitch and attacking quickly, which pleased me a lot."

Barca has been keen to stamp out suggestions than Cesc Fabregas will be leaving Camp Nou for Manchester United this summer, and Martino continued in that vein, while denying any knowledge of a bid for Chelsea defender David Luiz.

"He [Fabregas] still is our player and will stay with us this season; right now I am more worried about whether Puyol will recover."

Regarding Luiz, he added: "I’m in Thailand, I know nothing about any negotiations."

Tito Vilanova's replacement also insisted he would not try to convince Victor Valdes to stay at the Catalans beyond next summer, when the goalkeeper's current contract runs out.

“I understand that Valdes made his [departure] announcement long before I arrived, so I will leave him be and get on with him this season," Martino added.