FC Barcelona Coach Koeman Speaks On Sevilla, Dembele Exit, Messi Happiness, Dest And Depay Arrivals
Coach Ronald Koeman of FC Barcelona during the La Liga Santander match between Celta de Vigo v FC Barcelona at the Estadio de Balaidos on October 1, 2020 in Pontevedra Spain (Photo by David S. Bustamante
FC Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has spoken ahead on a range of topics ahead of the Blaugrana’s clash with Sevilla at the Camp Nou on Sunday, which include the possible exit of Ousmane Dembele, Lionel Messi’s happiness at the club, and Sergino Dest’s arrival.
Regarding tomorrow’s opposition, who are in good form and fresh off the back of a Europa League win, Koeman said, “We know that Sevilla are a strong team, who aspire to [achieve] many things every year. They’ve got a good coach and [play] a complicated game. If we [play] well at home, as [we have] in the last two games, we have a lot in our favour. It’s a ninety-minute fight. We’re confident we can take advantage of [our form].”
On increased hope of the Blaugrana turning into a winning side on his watch, Koeman answered that the team has only been together for five weeks, “but the game system is different from in the last few years”.
“It’s a change, [and] we need time for everyone to adapt,” Koeman continued. “We’re working well. Tactically we did well in the second half in Vigo [against Celta]. The team showed desire and I really liked that. They are giving the maximum to win the game. We are fine, [and] we trust ourselves but every match is different.”
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Later, one questioning journalist attempted to draw Koeman into commenting on what is now different with his team, but the Dream Team legend remained classy.
“I think [I should[ talk about this season, [as] I don’t want to criticize what’s happened. It’s intensity in training. I think [the team] trains the way they play. It’s complicated by the calendar. I don’t go out into the country to rest, but to do things. There’s a tactical training tomorrow. My job is to prepare the players to know what to do on the field. Apart from individual quality, we need to know tactical things. We have improved in the physical aspect and you can see the changes. The same players have noticed that too. They’re players and they like to enjoy the job. We must demand the fullest day by day.”
“It’s true that we love Eric Garcia,” Koeman admitted on the Manchester City transfer target. “[But] I can’t talk anymore. I’ve also seen comments from Pep [Guardiola]. That’s the way it is. Hopefully we’ll make it [the signing]. We know that [there is an] economic issue, which is complicated, but I can’t say any more. I don’t know if we can make it.”
Ousmane Dembele has been linked to a move to City’s rivals Manchester United, but Koeman was just as tight-lipped on whether the Frenchman will leave before the closing of the window on October 5.
“I can’t say much more about this subject,” Koeman insisted. “I always try to get the most out of the team and if there’s a change, it’s [because of] something. They [positional rivals] came in [to the starting lineup] because they deserve it. Dembele is another player. We needed [to be] more defensive the other day. It’s all up to the player, I haven’t talked to him about his future, but we’ll see a couple of days before we close the market.”
Probed again on the 23-year-old close to the end of his press conference, Koeman said that there is a “lot of competition” up top at Barca. “There is a lot of quality and in the position are Ansu, Konrad [de la Fuente], Dembele, [Antoine] Griezmann and many more. Ansu Fati is in front of Dembele. If a player is unhappy, it goes wrong. I want to have happy people [here]. He may be [unhappy] about not playing, perfect, but if he doesn’t want to be here, he [can] tell me. I’m going to count on him and he’s going to have options to play if there’s nothing, if there aren’t any moves.”
Unveiled yesterday after joining from Ajax, Koeman is unsure whether Sergino Dest can already join the matchday squad.
“We’re trying,” Koeman revealed. “Tomorrow we train and we’ll give the list [of players to face Sevilla]. I wish he could be [included]. If he won’t be, [we’ll] wait. He’s a very good player. It’s the image that we want [to give off] to change things – to have young people, [that are] the future of the club. At the age of 17, he has already played at the highest level. There will be competition on the wings. Defensively we are going to be very well reinforced, he has a lot of quality.”
Asked to comment on Philippe Coutinho, who has been born again since returning from Bayern Munich on loan, Koeman said, “He’s a very good player. That’s the way it is. He is a player who has learned a lot in England, [and] so much at Bayern Munich. This is also my job, to get the most out of each other. Put the players in place. That’s why they put more trust in the trainees. It all starts with players’ quality and he has it.”
“I think we can be happy, not confident,” Koeman admitted of this week’s Champions League draw. “You always have to play to win matches. We are the strongest, alongside Juventus. [But] We have to go match by match. We’re going to have a very tight schedule. We start with Ferencvaros at home and it’s important to win. We can be happy in general.”
It has been noticed that a previously wantaway Lionel Messi is now in improved spirits, but Koeman maintains the line that he has never had to question his number 10’s dedication.
“In principle from day one he has trained well, played well, [and] given the maximum for everyone,” Koeman said. “There’s no complaint [from me]. As captain he leads the team, [and] helps them from behind. It’s important that you don’t lose the ball. There’s no discussion of his quality. I’ve seen it many times from the outside and he’s always been the best in the world. It’s an example to have him as captain on the team.”
Lastly, with regards to the possible arrival of Memphis Depay, Koeman said, “There are two positions on the team we use [where you can] have one more player. They are center back and the ‘9’. There’s competition now, but we’re going to play a lot of games. It would help us to have one more in each position.”