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Koeman talks Araujo, Ibrahimovic and Messi ahead of Copa del Rey clash

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The latest from the Barcelona boss

FC Barcelona Training Session Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman faced the press on Tuesday to talk about the team’s Copa del Rey semi-final first leg against Sevilla.

The Dutch coach discussed the team’s injury problems, Julen Lopetegui’s side and was asked if captain Lionel Messi is the GOAT.

Here are the best bits:

Koeman on Sevilla

Looking at the results, it’s true that both teams are in great form and the semi-final of this cup is important to get a good away result. We know each other well and it will be a great match.

Koeman on injuries (Pjanic, Braithwaite & Dest being out)

Some of my players physically are not 100 per cent and I want to take the ones who are. I don’t want to run any more risks. We know we have a lot of players out but that’s the situation and there’s no other solution.

Koeman on Frenkie replacing Araujo

It’s true that sometimes I’ve put Frenkie as a center-back and then something is missing from the midfield. We need to decide, depending in the tactics. If we can we will always choose a center-back who is used to playing in that position.

Koeman on Messi on France Football cover and Rudi Garcia comments

I don’t know why they do this. I already said the other day that if they want to talk about Leo about his future, then let them talk. But now the manager of Lyon wants to get involved, it seems he likes to speak a lot in the press. I don’t really care. For me he’s not important, what we need to do is prepare for the match ahead of us.

Koeman on if winning the Copa will mean it’s been a good season

What is a good year for Barca? It’s difficult to answer because we want to win everything. Given the problems we have, the injuries, it seems like we survive many difficult circumstances. I want to point out the mentality of the team and the character of the players. We know we have a lot of quality, we are missing some players, but with what we are doing, with all the players injured and results away from home, I give a 10 out of 10 for this time at this moment.

Koeman on Mingueza

He’s with us right now. Oscar has improved a lot. I think that he really grabbed the opportunity to play with us. He’s played a lot, in different positions, which is also an important quality to have. He’s grown, thanks to the help of his team-mates.

Koeman on what he’s most proud of

When I came there were a lot of things going on and we can surely learn a lot from this season. We have changed a few things within the team and the club and I think we are on the right path. We are changing the team and giving the youngsters opportunity and trying to build a team for the future while also trying to win games. After the match against Granada, a lot of fans told me they were celebrating the goals, and that they hadn’t done that for some time.

Koeman on Umtiti

Physically he’s in shape, he’s in the squad. Given his track record we are always making sure he’s in optimal shape and we need to think about his fitness but I think given how well he’s played recently he’s ready to play.

Koeman on Araujo

He will be out for a little while. We have to wait and see how he recovers and whether he can train or not. I’m not going to put a date on it. We have to take the freshest players and take it game by game.

Koeman on Dest

Sergino has trained but still has some pain in his leg. We have left him out for tomorrow and told him he has to be 100 per cent to come back into the squad. That could be Saturday or if not most probably for the game against PSG

Koeman on how to break down Sevilla

It depends on us. They’ve got a very physical team, a very well organized team, and they have great individual talent which is why they are so high in the league table and in the semi-finals. I think they have one of the most complete teams in the competition so we need to try and get out of their press, because they will press us a lot. When we have the ball we need to be at our best and then we can hurt them.

Koeman on Ibrahimovic

I’m not surprised because I know him very well. I worked with him at Ajax when he was just 19, 20. You could see his quality, I think he’s demonstrated he’s one of the best forwards in the world despite his age. He’s a fantastic player, mentally he’s a winner, I think that’s even more important. He’s still playing at a very high level in Italy. It’s something incredible he’s been doing for many years in different teams and he’s won practically everything. He deserves all my compliments and praise.

Koeman on if Messi is the GOAT

It’s always difficult because these are different times, but what Mesi is doing, what he’s done, is something incredible. The numbers of goals, the titles. I didn’t see the Super Bowl but Messi is the greatest in football. What he is doing for the club once again, it’s difficult to compare with Cruyff, Pele and Maradona, but from what I’ve seen in the last 15-20 years, Messi is something incredible, really special.