Valverde calls on Barca to support Messi after Suarez injury
Ernesto Valverde has called on his Barcelona team to help star man Lionel Messi as they cope with the absence of the departed Neymar and injured Luis Suarez.
Barca were thrashed 5-1 on aggregate by rivals Real Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana, with Neymar missed and Suarez suffering a knee injury that will see him miss four or five weeks.
Now, ahead of their LaLiga opener against Real Betis, Barca have only Messi remaining of their famed 'MSN' strike force and Valverde wants his other players to contribute.
"Messi is the best player in the world - we are lucky - but we all have to help him," he told a pre-match news conference.
"We have to make him feel at ease so he can play his game and make his team shine. He needs a compact group around him."
Messi lined up alongside Suarez in a two-man attack for the second leg of the Supercopa, but Valverde has been considering his options since losing the Uruguay international.
"I know very clearly how I will replace Suarez," he added. "He's a big loss, we know his ability, but we hope to replace him with some security.
"We have players to do that and we'll see if we can get him back soon."