Ronald Koeman faced the press on Saturday to talk all things Barcelona ahead of the club’s first La Liga game of the 2020-21 season against Villarreal at the Camp Nou.
The Dutch coach discussed Lionel Messi’s latest outburst, Luis Suarez’s departure, Riqui Puig’s future, Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s recovery and Ansu Fati.
Here are the best bits:
Koeman on Suarez
It seems that I’m the bad guy in this film but it’s not this way. From day one or after my call with Luis I’ve showed nothing but respect for him and the player he is. He has trained as best he can. I always said to Luis it could be complicated for him to play if he stays but if he stays he’ll be part of the lineup. Before I signed, the club had already decided to change things. When I signed, I supported those decisions, but they had already been made.
Koeman on Messi
I think it’s normal that a player is sad when his friend has to leave the club after so many years they’ve spent together, that’s part of football. The most important thing to me is how Leo’s been in training and matches. He’s been an example to everyone, showing his commitment to the club and the team. I have no doubts about Messi.
Koeman on Riqui Puig
There will be players who have a number in the first team, others will have a B team mumber and these are decisions that have to be made. It is not true that I do not have him because tomorrow he is on the squad list, it is not a number issue.
It is not only with Riqui Puig. I understand that young players have to play games. If Riqui or Aleñá decide to stay, it is their decision and they will have opportunities to show me that I can count on them
Koeman on Ansu Fati
He’s a great talent for the club. There are few players at his age that have shown his level to play for Barcelona. He stil needs to learn things but he’s made his debut for Spain and that means something. Lucho has chosen him because he’s seen how good he is. For me he is a player for the future of the club. At his age now it is very impressive to have the level he has and to play in the Barca first team at his age.
Koeman on goalkeepers
As you know Ter Stegen is injured. He’s doing his recovery work, he still needs a few more weeks. I’m very happy with Neto. He’s working well, he’s a really good goalkeeper.
Koeman on Coutinho
We have to put each player in his best position, he can play as 10, or on the left wing. He also likes to defend and help the team, but I’m interested in him showing his quality close to the goal. Hopefully he will triumph this season.
Koeman on signings
We have to wait, there are still two more weeks left, I will answer when we know what we have, we are looking for players to improve the team, we must also understand the financial situation of the club. If I stay with these players, we will work hard to achieve what we want to achieve.
Koeman on the defence
It is normal that we have to improve things in defense, we are going to change the system, we are going to press higher, it is a quite radical change and that costs. We need time.