Ernesto Valverde
BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 22: Ernesto Valverde, Manager of Barcelona looks on prior to the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and RC Celta de Vigo at Camp Nou on December 22, 2018 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde believes Atletico Madrid is a bigger threat to the club’s title ambitions.

Atletico are currently five points behind Barcelona in the league table and would be hoping to reduce the gap when they play Getafe.

Meanwhile, Arch-rivals Real Madrid are 10 points adrift of the reigning champions and equally experiencing a dwindling form.

And that has prompted Valverde to acknowledge Atletico as his side’s biggest challengers in La Liga.

Valverde disclosed via Sky: “We look more at who is immediately behind us.

“I value both Atletico and Real Madrid very highly because one is a great team and the other never gives up. But you have to look more at the one that is five points behind.”

The former Bilbao boss spoke about the club’s recent signings with 21-year-old Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong the latest addition in a £65m (€75m) deal.

“You cannot talk to a player who has a contract elsewhere and it’s not my way of doing things,” Valverde added. “I have nothing more to say about it.”

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Kevin Prince-Boateng has also arrived from Sassuolo and Jeison Murillo from Valencia, both on loan, while Jean-Clair Todibo has agreed to join from Toulouse in the summer.

Asked if he has the final say on signings, Valverde said: “I talk to the technical committee and we have normal conversations.

“I never speak in absolute terms that someone has to come, no ifs or buts. We speak generally and talk about options.”