Football: Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde quashes Neymar exit 'rumours'

Barcelona's coach Ernesto Valverde speaks during a press conference at the Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, on July 21, 2017.
Barcelona's coach Ernesto Valverde speaks during a press conference at the Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, on July 21, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

NEW JERSEY (REUTERS) - Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde, who will lead the club for the first time in Saturday's pre-season match against Juventus, has dismissed speculation linking Neymar with a move to French Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain.

"Neymar is with us and we absolutely want him to stay here. The rest is just rumours," Valverde told reporters at a news conference at Red Bull Arena on Friday ahead of Barcelona's first game in the International Champions Cup.

"This is a time for rumours," he added.

Valverde, who played for Barcelona as a forward between 1988 and 1990 under Dutch great Johan Cruyff, said he had not even discussed the speculation with the Brazilian forward.

"We've talked about other stuff such as tactics and other stuff. It's a player we love and we want. Not only football-wise, but also the things he brings to the locker room."

Sitting alongside Valverde at the news conference, midfielder Sergio Busquets said there was no reason for his Barca team-mate to move.

"I don't think he could be in any better place. I hope that he stays here for many years," Busquets said.

After the news conference, Neymar joined fellow forwards Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez among the rest of the Barcelona squad in warmups and practice on the New York Red Bulls field ahead of the match against Juventus at New Jersey's MetLife Stadium.

Valverde said he was still learning about his new side.

"I'm getting to know them little by little in the practice sessions we've had.

"It's not an official competition and Juve and ourself are not in form yet, but I'm eager to see what my players can do on the pitch."