However, he will be 34 in May and Barca's move to sign Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool last month in a 160 million-euro deal indicated that they are planning for a future without him. Javier Mascherano left Barca at the end of January to join Chinese side Hebei China Fortune. Asked if he was worried about more of his players being tempted to accept mega-bucks offers from the Far East, Valverde said: "At the moment it has only happened with Mascherano and I am not going to make myself go crazy thinking about these things before they have happened."
Ernesto Valverde says he needs Andres Iniesta at Barcelona, but if an offer came in from China... pic.twitter.com/oGQ4vsTzum— Goal (@goal) February 17, 2018
He added: "We have not got time to think about these just now given all that we are playing for." Barca face in-form Eibar at Ipurua on Saturday looking to continue their unbeaten record in La Liga this season and consolidate their lead at the top of the table, which is currently seven points over Atletico Madrid. The Catalans face Chelsea in the Champions League next Tuesday, but they come into the weekend fresh from a first free midweek in 2018. "We have had a clear week and we needed that just to have a bit of a margin and get ready to go again," said Valverde, whose side have drawn their last two league outings against Espanyol and Getafe.
#LaLiga: "I can't comment on every story in every newspaper. This has not happened, and we want @andresiniesta8 to stay, to keep scoring and creating goals for us," said @FCBarcelona coach Ernesto Valverdehttps://t.co/ijBlycuO2M— FirstpostSports (@FirstpostSports) February 17, 2018
Valverde, who has Thomas Vermaelen back in training again, believes the fact that Chelsea were due to play their FA Cup tie against Hull City on Friday night gives them an advantage ahead of the Champions League last 16, first leg in London. "Our tiredness has been mental more than physical, but this extra day that Chelsea have, from a physical point of view, gives them an advantage." Asked if he would have liked the Eibar game to have been moved to Friday, he replied: "I would have liked that."
It's hard to imagine a world without Andres Iniesta at Barcelona, but he has an eye-watering offer on the table ??— SPORTbible (@sportbible) February 16, 2018
No doubt he'll consider this one...? https://t.co/I0hbEeUGRv