Ernesto Valverde says Manchester United can win the Champions League
By Alice Piper
Last Updated: 27/07/17 7:36am
Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde says Manchester United are "contenders to win" the Champions League this season.
Neymar's first-half strike was the difference in Barca's 1-0 International Champions Cup win over United in Washington on Wednesday but the La Liga giants may have had more, had David de Gea not produced a string of fine saves to thwart their ever-impressive attack.
Despite beating Jose Mourinho's men, Valverde believes United, who qualified for the Champions League through their Europa League triumph, are back on the up and feels their overall performance and recruitment power will make them a side to be reckoned with.
"Obviously it hasn't been well lately, but I mean they won the Europa League," he said.
"This year they are going to be in the Champions League. Their presence by itself is impressive. They impress. I think they are going to be a really hard team to beat.
"For me, they are contenders to win and they are going to be hard to beat in the Premier League and the Champions League.
"I wouldn't want to face them in the Champions League."
United provided more of a threat in the second half, after Barca made a number of changes at the interval.
Neymar was one of 10 players substituted at half-time, having added to his double in the pre-season victory over Juventus.
The Brazil forward has been strongly linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain, but the Barca head coach dismissed talks of a move away from the Nou Camp.
"Neymar was very happy talking to his Manchester United friends outside the locker room just right now," he said. "He is still with us.
"Concerning the game, I am happy with the performance and I am happy that we won against a powerful team such as Manchester United.
"In the first half, I think there was a high rhythm in regards to both teams having chances in both boxes.
"It is clear that even though it is a friendly, both teams wanted to win tonight."