Atletico Madrid a bigger threat than Real Madrid this season, says Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde
By Sky Sports News
Last Updated: 26/01/19 4:37pm
Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde has admitted he views Atletico Madrid as a greater threat to his side winning La Liga than Real Madrid this season.
Atletico, who play Getafe on Saturday, sit five points behind Barcelona in the league table, while Real's stuttering campaign means they are 10 points adrift of the reigning champions.
Real have shown signs of a return to form in recent weeks having won four out of their last five matches - including an impressive victory over Sevilla - but Valverde believes it is Atletico who remain his side's biggest challengers.
Valverde said: "We look more at who is immediately behind us.
"I value both Atletico and Real Madrid very highly because one is a great team and the other never gives up. But you have to look more at the one that is five points behind."
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Barcelona have made four signings in the January transfer window, their latest move a £65m (€75m) deal - a further £9.5m (€11m) in add-ons - for 21-year-old Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong.
De Jong has said he spoke to both Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola and Paris Saint-Germain's Thomas Tuchel before making his decision, but not Valverde.
"You cannot talk to a player who has a contract elsewhere and it's not my way of doing things," Valverde added. "I have nothing more to say about it."
Kevin Prince-Boateng has also arrived from Sassuolo and Jeison Murillo from Valencia, both on loan, while Jean-Clair Todibo has agreed to join from Toulouse in the summer.
Asked if he has the final say on signings, Valverde said: "I talk to the technical committee and we have normal conversations.
"I never speak in absolute terms that someone has to come, no ifs or buts. We speak generally and talk about options."