Gattuso expects Nico to stay at Valencia amid Barcelona recall reports

By Sports Desk October 14, 2022

Gennaro Gattuso expects Nico Gonzalez to remain at Valencia for the rest of the season, despite reports suggesting Barcelona are considering recalling the midfielder.

Nico left Camp Nou on loan in search of regular minutes in August but has struggled to nail down a first-team spot with Valencia. 

Although Valencia have made a decent start to their first campaign under Gattuso, winning four of their first eight LaLiga games, the 20-year-old has played a limited role.

Nico has made seven league appearances this season, but five of those outings have come from the bench, meaning he has featured for just 231 minutes in the competition.

With Barcelona enduring an injury crisis, reports in Spain have suggested the Blaugrana could cut Nico's loan short in January, but Gattuso has called for him to force his way into Valencia's team instead.

"This is the first time I've heard of it. No player has spoken to me," Gattuso told reporters on Friday. "He is working very well. He has a one-year contract with us. The player has not come to talk to me.

"All the players want to be starters and I think he should work well on the field, and when he has the opportunity to play, show it. 

"He is a great professional. He trains very well but I have a squad of 23 or 24 players. He is a kid who always trains fully."

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    LaLiga launched an investigation on Monday after social media footage showed racist insults being directed at Vinicius during Madrid's 1-0 defeat at Real Mallorca on Sunday.

    The 22-year-old was subjected to racist abuse in both of Madrid's matches with city rivals Atletico Madrid this season, while LaLiga filed hate crime charges to Spanish courts after similar incidents in December's game with Real Valladolid.

    Vinicius accused LaLiga in December of "doing nothing" to combat racism, and his head coach feels Spanish football must face up to the issue.

    "The question I ask is this: What is the problem?" Ancelotti told reporters. "Vinicius? Vinicius' team-mates? What's the problem? To defend himself? What does Vinicius have to defend himself against? What do his team-mates have to defend themselves against? I don't know.

    "It seems like the problem is Vinicius, but the problem is what happens around him. Period.

    "It is a problem of Spanish football. I am a part of Spanish football and I think it's a problem that we have to solve. Because it seems that Vinicius is the culprit, but he is the victim of something that I don't understand."

    Federico Valverde defended Vinicius' exuberant playing style after he was fouled 10 times against Mallorca – the most by any Madrid player in a Spanish top-flight match since Isco against Real Betis in August 2013.

    Vinicius has won 79 fouls in LaLiga this season, 25 more than any other player, and Valverde feels Madrid's players must stand up for him to counter any opposition roughhouse tactics.

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    "I always say that so many fouls on the pitch is part of the game, we have to defend him as team-mates.

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