- Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde defended Chelsea manager Antonio Conte
- Valverde reminded critics how crucial Conte was to the success of last season
- Ex-Barcelona boss Luis Enrique is the top candidate to replace Conte if he leaves
- Chelsea host Barcelona in the Champions League round of 16 on February 20
Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde looked to remind everyone on Wednesday of the quality of Chelsea boss Antonio Conte as he came to the defence of the under-fire manager.
The Italian is widely expected to leave Chelsea at the end of the season, if not earlier, after mounting pressure following a disappointing run of results.
Barcelona travel to Stamford Bridge on February 20 for the first-leg of their last-16 Champions League tie but for Valverde, critics have been too quick to write off Conte’s achievements in England.
Barcelona’s Ernesto Valverde came to the defence of under-fire Chelsea boss Antonio Conte
Valverde praised the Italian and insisted he was the reason the Blues had success last season
‘Chelsea’s head coach is the one who led them to win the Premier League title last year, he’s won many titles, and he’s had a great career,’ Valverde said.
Former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique is the man Chelsea want to succeed the Italian at Stamford Bridge, but Valverde was unwilling to enter a discussion about what the future holds for the Blues.
‘You are making a big prediction, because at the moment nothing has happened,’ Valverde said.
‘Do you want me to tell you what’s going to happen in the future? Or about your prediction? At the moment there is no changes so far.’
Ex-Barcelona boss Luis Enrique is the top candidate to replace Conte should he depart the club
Barcelona travel to face Valencia at the Mestalla on Thursday evening in the Copa del Rey semi-final second leg with Luis Suarez’s goal at the Camp Nou ensuring a slender advantage going in to the game.
If the Catalans edge out their hosts and progress to the final they will face Sevilla after they navigated their way past a spirited Leganes side.
Ahead of the visit of Barcelona, meanwhile, Chelsea have back-to-back home games with West Brom in the Premier League and Hull City in the FA Cup.