Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 October 2020

Ernesto Valverde 'excited' at prospect of fielding Antoine Griezmann alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez

Messi and Suarez have missed Barcelona's tour of Japan after being granted time off following Copa America exploits

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has backed new signing Antoine Griezmann to strike up a potent attacking force with fLionel Messi and Luis Suarez when the trio finally get on the pitch together.

Griezmann completed a move to the Spanish champions from Atletico Madrid for €120 million (Dh491m) earlier this month, although the latter has asked La Liga to block Barcelona's registration for the player as the two clubs continue to dispute the fee.

The French forward, 28, has played his first games in Barcelona's colours on their tour of Japan and featured in Saturday's 2-0 win over Vissel Kobe.

Messi and Suarez are yet to link up with the rest of the squad having been given extended breaks following their involvement at the Copa America in Brazil.

Between them, Messi, Suarez and Griezmann have scored 682 Liga goals, making for a mouthwatering prospect when the trio do eventually take to the field together.

"It's true that some players who are good fit in together easier," Valverde said.

"We will see the relationship socially and at the camp. We are excited for this opportunity.

"We believe in balance in the team, in front or in the back, he [Griezmann] moves quick, he passes well, and finds space and this is what we were missing."

Two second-half goals from 21-year-old academy graduate Carles Perez were enough to seal the win over Kobe, who featured former Barca players Andres Iniesta, David Villa and Sergi Samper on Saturday.

Barcelona defender Thomas Vermalen joined the J-League side on Saturday on a free transfer but did not feature against his former club.

"Carles Perez scored two goals today, so it's a good news for his potential and shows how we can bring the young guys forward," Valverde said.

"It was my first goal for Barcelona and I'm glad to score even two," a delighted Perez added.

"It's been my dream to score goals for this great team since my childhood."

Former Barca captain Iniesta, who left the club after 16 trophy-filled years last year, said it was an odd afternoon playing against former teammates such as Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rakitic.

"Well, it's a bit strange of course," said the 35-year-old 2010 World Cup winner.

"You spend so long playing with the same players ... it's strange, special."

The win wrapped up Barcelona's pre-season friendlies in Japan following their 2-1 loss to Chelsea earlier this week.

Barcelona's next match is against Arsenal at Camp Nou on August 7.

Updated: July 28, 2019 10:16 AM

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