Ronald Koeman has been talking to the press ahead of Barcelona’s first game of the new La Liga season on Sunday against Real Sociedad at the Camp Nou.
The Dutchman spoke about playing in front of fans, Lionel Messi’s departure and offered an update on a number of first-team players.
Here, as usual, are the best bits:
Koeman on playing Real Sociedad in front of fans
We are really excited to begin the league with around 20,000 people in the stadium and that’s the greatest news. We know the quality of our rival. Last season all the games with them were interesting. We have to look forward and we are excited to play tomorrow.
Koeman on Memphis & Eric being registered
We know the difficult situation of the club, we need everyone to help. I think it’s important we highlight the attitude of Pique, Roberto, Busquets and Alba because they are have been defending this badge for many years and want to help the club. They show that they are players who’ve grown up here.
Koeman on the new season
Of course we have thought a lot about Messi and it’s normal. We are talking about the best player in the world, and his quality to win many trophies has been shown here and it’s normal. Messi won’t be here with us but we have many more players, a strong squad, once we recover our injured players. I think we have a great team to achieve important objectives and there are no excuses for tomorrow. First game, first points and I think the team is prepared. We have done a great preseason without Messi so we have to play, we have to go forwards. I’m convinced people will enjoy this team.
Koeman on Barca being able to win the UCL
We have to talk about the league. We are a strong team and we can win the league. The UCL is different because you play two legs and we have seen some teams in the past winning the UCL without the best players in the world but showing they are a strong team. Of course we want to win everything but we have to get confidence and that’s why the start of the league is important.
Koeman on Messi’s exit
It’s really tough for all the fans because Messi gave everything for this club, the kind of player that he is. We will miss him of course because he is a key player in Barca’s history but we don’t have to think in the past. These things happen in football. We have a great future with our youngsters and that’s why I’m excited with our squad. Hopefully our fans will support us, the past is the past and we have to live the present and work hard to achieve our objectives.
Koeman on Pedri
Pedri, like Eric and Oscar, have come back really excited from the Olympics. They have their heads focused on Barca and they have shown in their training sessions they are fit to play. Gavi was wearing a mask but he’s available for tomorrow.
Koeman on potential signings
If we analyse all the positions of our squad, we have important players out up front - Ansu, Dembele, Aguero, Coutinho - they are four quality players. We have a short list up front and that’s why we are thinking about trying to sign a forward. We have different kinds of profiles, but to have more competition, yes. It all depends on whether we can sign. If it’s possible we’ll try to sign one player up front.
Koeman on Memphis
I expect great things from Memphis. I know him well. We worked for two years together with the national team were he was an important player and I want to see the same Memphis. A strong striker, fast, a clinical player. We need to ask our forwards and midfielders to score goals and we will also try to improve our strategy to score more goals from set pieces. Memphis is an important player in this sense.
Koeman on Griezmann
I’ve explained it many times. I love to work with Antoine Griezmann because he’s the player in the squad who always helps the team without the ball. He’s a happy guy. He’s one of the players who must take a step up now and be more clinical. He’ll have a more important role because he can play in Messi’s position and this can be an advantage for him.
Koeman on exits
For me it’s difficult to talk about exits. It is the club, the president, who should talk about those things.
Koeman on Frenkie de Jong and Ansu Fati
Frenkie has trained in the last sessions and he will be available to play on Sunday. Ansu is still recovering from his injury, he is improving. It’s always difficult to say when ,but if everything goes well in 2-3 weeks let’s see if he can be available to train with the group. And to play games? Probably after the international break.