July 28, 2018 / 8:20 AM / 8 months ago

Malcolm must play his way onto team, says Barca's Valverde

Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - FC Barcelona vs Valencia - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain - April 14, 2018 Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde REUTERS/Albert Gea

(Reuters) - Barcelona will face Tottenham Hotspur in the International Champions Cup on Saturday without many of their key players and while the stage is set for their new signing Malcolm to make his mark manager Ernesto Valverde is keen to downplay expectations.

Barcelona swooped to sign the Brazilian forward on a five-year deal from Girondins Bordeaux for an initial 41 million euros ($47.89 million) in a surprise move after AS Roma had struck a deal with the French club.

Valverde said the 21-year-old would have to earn his spot in the team like everyone else.

“We’ve been following him for a while and know him. He can definitely help the team,” he said on Friday. “But (making the starting 11) obviously depends on a day-to-day basis and coach’s decision.”

Valverde said not everyone was able to cope with the demands of playing for such a big club.

“In Barcelona we not only need to win Champions League, the demand is to win everything we play,” he added.

“Playing in Barcelona isn’t easy. The demands are really high on this club. We understand we always have to win and we also have to play well.”

With Barca playing without the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, and Gerard Pique, Valverde said they might deploy different tactics as well as faces. “We have multiple possibilities to explore regarding the system to use,” Valverde said. “It also depends on the players you have. But we believe we can make variations, especially on defence.”

Barcelona also face Roma and AC Milan at the pre-season tournament, before facing Sevilla in the Spanish Super Cup on Aug. 12.

Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Peter Rutherford

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