Barcelona, July 11 (IANS) Spanish football giants Barcelona will start the pre-season on Wednesday under the new technical direction of Ernesto Valverde, who replaces Luis Enrique after three seasons, but with few changes in the squad, about 50 days before the summer market closes.
The club announced on July 5 the renewal of the contract of Argentine Leo Messi until 2021, but apart from that, this early summer has seen more news of possible signings or young talents leaving the La Masia youth academy than any actual movement of players, reports Efe.
The expected return of Gerard Deulofeu, for whom Barcelona paid 12 million euros ($13.3 million) to recover from English side Everton, and the farewell to Jeremy Mathieu, who went free to Sporting de Portugal, and the same with Cristian Tello and Real Betis, have been the only operations of Barça so far this summer.
The most significant changes have taken place in the technical side, with the losses of Luis Enrique, who is taking a gap of a year from coaching, and his assistant Juan Carlos Unzue, now the new coach of Celta, and the arrival of Ernesto Valverde and his assistant, Jon Aspiazu, from Athletic Bilbao.
The new coaching staff started their journey on Tuesday by getting used to the sports city before the first pre-season training on Wednesday, which will see some absences including all the players who have participated in the Confederations Cup, German Marc ter Stegen and Portuguese Andre Gomes, as well as the Spaniards who reached the final of European U-21 Championship, Gerard Deulofeu and Denis Suarez.
An expedition of Barcelona players will travel to Japan for the presentation on Thursday of the new sponsor of the Barça jersey, and they will be incorporated later into the training.
After days of medical tests on their physical status, the group will train in daily double sessions in the sports city, until the departure to the United States on July 19 to play three friendlies against Juventus, Manchester United and Real Madrid, as part of the International Champions Cup.
On August 7, Barça will play their summer tournament, Joan Gamper, against Brazilian side Chapecoense, while on August 12 and August 15 they will play the first leg (Camp Nou) and second leg (Santiago Bernabeu) of the Supercopa de España against Real Madrid.