Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman discussed the latest developments with his team ahead of Saturday’s La Liga clash against Granada.
The Dutchman spoke about his team’s improved results, Pedri’s chances of playing at the Euros, Ilaix Moriba’s first-team hopes and the form of Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele.
Here are the best bits:
Koeman on Barcelona’s title hopes
We’ve been strong with the wins away from home. But we lost a lot of points away before Real Valladolid and we need to get them back. I think we can still do it, that’s the most important thing. We need to help ourselves and we need help from others. We can’t drop any more points. It’s a lot of pressure for the team, knowing we can’t lose.
Koeman on Pedri going to the Euros?
It’s not my decision. I think there’s a lot of good things to say about what he’s done until now. He’s a kid and he’s playing almost all the games. He deserves it. But all players, especially young ones, will have ups and downs. I hope he continues to progress this way but I don’t have any doubts that he will keep improving and those other things are out of our hands.
Koeman on Copa del Rey draw
I think they deserved to win against Atletico who weren’t playing with their best 11 either. When you play a team from a lower division who are committed and going all out it can be tough. It’s a heads up for us. It’ll be an attractive match, we don’t have to travel and we’ll have our report from Barcelona B who played them recently.
Koeman on replacing Lenglet against Granada
Umtiti has been out of action for a long time. He’s had to overcome injuries, it’s been a long way back. He needs to play, he’s had some minutes and we have to decide because Lenglet won’t be there. We also have Mingueza who has played there. It’s a decision we are going to make after this afternoon’s training session.
Koeman on Ilaix Moriba
We know that Alena has gone on loan to Getafe and so we need an extra player. Ilaix Moriba was with us in pre-season, he’s played for Barca B, he’s trained with the first team so there is the possibility that he will be on the squad list for tomorrow.
Koeman on players leaving in January
The decision is up to each individual player but, without saying names, I think for some players due to their youth and their need to get minutes I think it’s tough here. They need to look for other teams and improve as a player. We have respect for players when they spend time away. I’ve always said youngsters need to play and can’t be a year without playing at a high level.
Koeman on Dembele
He’s had a lot of bad luck with injuries and it’s been tough because he recovered and then got injured again and hasn’t spent time just playing. It’s tough for a player to be at their level in those conditions. I see him good physically, he’s happy, he’s got confidence, I like him as a player, he has offers different things to Griezmann, Trincao, and Leo. He has individual qualities to play one on one situations and on the wings. I hope he continues to play up to his level but especially that he’s going to be in good shape and fit to play a lot of games.
Koeman on January signings
We want to bring in someone to improve the team for this season, there are positions where we need more competition, where we need to be more clinical, so there are several reasons to try and sign, that’s my opinion. I understand the club’s situation and if it’s not possible, it’s not possible. We will continue playing with intensity and the same ideas and we will have to wait for next year.
Koeman on Messi’s happiness
He’s a winner, he’s a player who loves to play and train. He’s like me, he’s upset when he loses. Winners express themselves like that sometimes. Leo, from the very first day when he came back to train, has given the maximum to the team. Of course, I saw things in the last game, things that help us a lot to win games. I hope it keeps going.
Koeman on Pedri and Frenkie de Jong
We’ve spoken with Frenkie about his skills, where we need him. He’s a player who can help a lot at building up from the back but we also need people who can get into the penalty area and Frenkie can help us there. So yes we’ve asked him to take on more responsibility in that area
For Pedri we are trying to get the maximum out of each player. Pedri has played in different positions. For the midfielders, it’s about moving where there is space. You also need midfielders who can score 8-10 goals a season
Koeman on Griezmann confidence
Every player needs confidence in themselves, with their team-mates and the position they are playing. It all starts with the player himself. I can talk to him, show him images and how to improve but he has to use his skills and help the team be clinical. It’s not just a question of his hard work. He recovered a lot of balls the other day and he had an assist for Leo. But he needs to score because scoring is the best medicine to improve one’s self-confidence.
Koeman on knowing his Gala XI
Yes it’s more clear. I think it’s normal as a new coach you have to know the qualities of the players, the character of the players. You have a system but the system isn’t the most important thing. Yes it’s true that little by little we know what’s the best team, we know the competition in the team. I know where we can improve, where we need more competition.