Athletic Bilbao boss Valverde 'flattered' by Barcelona link

The 50-year-old trainer says he is happy at San Mames but refused to rule out a potential return to one of the clubs he represented as a player
Athletic Bilbao boss Ernesto Valverde has admitted that he is "flattered" by speculation linking him with Barcelona.

The current incumbent at Camp Nou, Tata Martino, is under intense pressure, with the Catalans set to finish the season without a trophy after being eliminated from the Champions League, falling four points behind Atletico at the top of La Liga and losing the Copa del Rey final to Real Madrid.

Valverde is currently being touted as a potential successor and while the former Blaugrana forward insists that he is not looking to leave San Mames, he is honoured that he is viewed as a potential candidate.

“I’m flattered by the comments,” the 50-year-old is quoted as saying by AS. “On whether it’s negotiable or not, I have a contract with Athletic and I’m comfortable here."

Valverde admitted, though, that he is not in the least bit surprised that Barca are being a viewed as a club in crisis, given he knows full well how great the sense of expectancy is at Camp Nou.

“A week ago Barca were in three races, and now just one," he mused. "And whoever lost the Copa final was going to be in crisis.

"I’ve played at Barca and that’s how it is. Sometimes they win a lot but this year hasn’t gone as expected."