Barcelona boss Valverde says he'd have 'given my arm' for Iniesta's touch
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said he'd have "given his arm" for the touch of his team's captain Andres Iniesta after the veteran graced what could be his last final for the club with a goal in Saturday's evening's 5-0 Copa del Rey final dismantling of Sevilla.
Barca completely steamrolled Sevilla to win a fourth consecutive Copa -- and 30th in total -- with Luis Suarez scoring twice in the first half, either side of a Lionel Messi strike. Iniesta made it 4-0 just after the break by coolly rounding Sevilla goalkeeper David Soria, with Philippe Coutinho's penalty completing the scoring.
Valverde withdrew his skipper to an ovation late on, and the 33-year-old was in tears on the bench as the Barca fans in the crowd chanted his name. Minutes later Iniesta received the Copa trophy -- the sixth of his career -- from Spain's King Felipe VI.
Amid speculation that as soon as next week Iniesta could confirm an exit from the Camp Nou, with Chinese side Chongqing Dangdai Lifan apparently best placed, the Blaugrana coach told the postgame news conference that he was just happy to be able to enjoy watching a player who made difficult things look so easy.
"Let's see what happens," Valverde said. "Andres is the one who must take the decision, and communicate it. It is clear that Andres is a joy to watch and enjoy, today with a goal too.
"It is like with Messi, how they make the difficult things look so easy. When I was a player I'd have given my arm for some of the touches he can do."
Barca controlled the game right from the first whistle, pressing Sevilla back and getting ahead, then being able to take advantage of the spaces when their opponents were forced to come out and look for an equaliser.
"We began well, and dominating, and we scored," Valverde said. "Then we had more options, more space, and we had the 3-0. It was a good game from us. We played with determination, we wanted to mark territory. At 1-0 they wanted to move up the pitch, which worked out well for us."
The morning of the game had seen Mundo Deportivo report that senior figures at the Camp Nou were considering firing Valverde should Barca follow their Champions League exit to Roma with a loss to Sevilla in the Copa.
"I don't know what to say [to that]," Valverde said when asked about the report. "I do not notice many things that are going on. We coaches have to seal ourselves away.
"We know that when things like Roma happen, it can get a bit stormy, there can be cataclysms. We are obliged to win everything, but for me there is no problem. When I took on this job I knew what I was being exposed to."
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan