Jeison Murillo’s arrival on loan from Valencia boosts the team’s defensive options but the manager does not expect further signings
Ernesto Valverde says he would happily close the January transfer window without Barcelona making any signings.
Barca on Thursday confirmed the arrival of defender Jeison Murillo on loan from Valencia in a deal that addressed their defensive injury crisis.
With Thomas Vermalen out for a month and Samuel Umtiti also sidelined, Barca’s only available first-team centre-backs are Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet.
But despite the lack of options at the back, Valverde is not expecting the club to pursue further signings in January.
“I’d be the first coach to close a transfer window before it’s opened,” Valverde told a news conference ahead of Saturday’s LaLiga meeting with Celta Vigo. “Until January 1 the market isn’t officially open.
“We’ll have an eye on it of course and clubs will look at our players too, that’s how the market works, so let’s see how it works out.
“I don’t know how it will. On January 5 things are one way and then on the 29th another, like we saw in the summer.
“Let’s be cautious, but in principle we are working with the squad we’ve got. Hopefully in January we don’t lose players and need to cover them.”
Murillo’s loan includes a purchase option worth €25million but Valverde indicated Barca are not in a financial position to make a signing on a permanent basis.
“We are in a delicate situation with centre-backs, since the summer we’ve been working really with two at the same time,” he added. “We had Umtiti injured then Thomas out for some time too. So we have managed quite well but we don’t know how things might pan out from here onwards.
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“We have another option but there are players in the B team as well. The club insisted it would be a loan as we didn’t want to make a financial investment, so the idea is for him [Murillo] to start playing immediately.
“He is a player with a very good knowledge of European and Spanish football too, so he should be able to adapt quickly, that’s the idea. It’s never easy to find players in the market who are exactly what you need at that time. We don’t have a lot of time as we play two games a week.
“We found a solution we think is a good one as he is a good player.”
Umtiti has only started six LaLiga games this season and Valverde said he is in the dark about when the France international, who travelled to Qatar in November for a “conservative” treatment plan, will be ready to return.
“I’d love to give a specific answer, but I don’t know,” the Barca coach continued. “He is in permanent contact with the doctors and he is due to come here in a few days, but he might have to go away again.
“We want him back as soon as possible but I can’t give specific figures, I’m not a doctor and don’t understand these things. We just hope he will be back as soon as possible.”
Asked why Umtiti will have to “go away” again, he added: “It’s a supposition, I honestly don’t know. I really don’t know, so don’t quote me, because I don’t know about his treatment schedule. If you quote me it’ll be the wrong quote so please, no.”