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Valverde tips Griezmann to star alongside Messi & Suarez

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Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde is confident there won’t be any problems in playing Antoine Griezmann alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Griezmann, who completed a €120m transfer from La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid, made his second appearance for Barcelona on Saturday against Vissel Kobe.

Valverde chose to start him up front, in an uncommon 4-4-2 formation, with B team star Riqui Puig. The club’s newest number 17 played the entire first-half, but couldn’t break the deadlock before he made way for Ousmane Dembele.

Young winger Carles Perez then scored a second-half brace to secure Barcelona a 2-0 friendly win in Japan.

Now, the Blaugrana will head back to Camp Nou for a Joan Gamper Trophy final encounter with Arsenal. While they’re home, Messi and Suarez will return to the team following their Copa America exploits.

Naturally, this has raised concerns over how Griezmann will fit in alongside the prolific duo.

The left-footed player spent a huge chunk of his career down the left wing before becoming a centre-forward in 2016. He’s also enjoyed great success on the right side, where he can cut into defences with his left foot.

But Suarez usually takes the centre-forward role in Barcelona, while Messi favours playing on the right side. Therefore, a return to the left-wing seems Valverde’s most likely option for Griezmann.

Nevertheless, the 55-year-old remains relaxed over the situation.

“The good players always understand things easily,” said Valverde, according to Sport.

“We’ll see later on how well he links up with others. We have a lot of hope with him that it will work. He moves quickly and finds space really well.

“He’s a player we needed.”

Aside from Griezmann, Valverde also had some encouraging words for youngsters Riqui Puig and Carles Perez.

“The fact these guys are involved and are scoring goals is good because it establishes them as alternatives. We’re happy with them,” said the Spanish coach.

“When La Liga starts, and the real games begin, we’ll see which players we can count on.”