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Ernesto Valverde: Barcelona may restructure squad in January

BARCELONA -- Ernesto Valverde is looking to restructure Barcelona's squad in January after he was left with an excess of players when the transfer window closed earlier this month.

Thomas Vermaelen and Arda Turan have not played a single minute in the Champions League or La Liga this season and are two of the players Valverde is reported to be keen to move on.

Diario Sport reported on Saturday that the coach has already told the club he wants to lighten the squad in the winter as the path for some of the more talented youngsters in the B team is currently blocked.

Valverde denied that story, but he did confirm he would rather work with a smaller squad.

"There are 24 players in the squad and I am really happy with the players I have," he said in a news conference ahead of Sunday's league game against Las Palmas at Camp Nou.

"When we get to January, though, perhaps we will talk about restructuring. But as far as the squad is concerned, I will admit that I don't like squads to be too big."

Valverde, seemingly growing tired of being asked about players who have not been involved as much as others, grew exasperated when asked about the omission of Gerard Deulofeu for the last two games.

"You like to ask about players that aren't in the team," he replied. "Deulofeu's the latest... you're always asking the same questions. I can only pick 18 players. There are more than that in the squad and only 11 can be on the pitch. What can I do?"

One consistent in Valverde's team is Lionel Messi and the Argentina star is set to make his 594th appearance for Barca this weekend, moving ahead of Carles Puyol in third place on the club's all-time appearance list.

Only Andres Iniesta (638) and Xavi Hernandez (767) have played more games for Barcelona than Messi.

"That shows not just his level -- because that's not what appearances measure -- but his capacity for smashing records," Valverde said.

"It's one record after another. He seems to just go on and on and on, beating record after record after record. Puyol was here for many years and Messi has only just turned 30 and he's already surpassed him."

Barca can extend their winning start to the La Liga season to seven games -- and nine in all competitions -- with a win over Las Palmas.

However, Valverde is wary of taking anything for granted against a side who arrive at Camp Nou with a new manager after Pako Ayestaran replaced Manolo Marquez earlier this week.

"It's important to go into the international break with our ninth consecutive win," Valverde added.

"Las Palmas have always been a skillful, technical team who like to take on teams and do damage through good football. When analysing them this time there's the added difficulty of a new manager, which makes a difference.

"Maybe that could make them a 'surprise' package, but it's still the same players and we know Pako from his time at Valencia."