The coach admits that he is “worried” about the uncertainties two days before starting the preseason and involves veterans, “Barça people of many years”, to help the club by lowering their salary
“When not everything is solved, you have to be concerned.” These were the first words of Ronald Koeman two days away from returning to activity with Barça. Many uncertainties, perhaps too many, hang over the team and its coach, of course, is not entirely calm.
This concern is not only due to the economic situation of Barça that so much affects the sporting plans, but also due to the instability of the squad as they do not know with certainty who will stay and who will leave. And personifying the two problems is the figure of Lionel Messi, officially separated from the club (his contract ended on March 30), but virtually renewed according to the information issued by the club.
“I have full confidence. Everyone has to make an effort for Messi to continue with us,” Koeman claimed shortly before the charity golf tournament started. Koeman Cup held at the Barcelona Golf Club, in Sant Esteve Sesrovires. When he said “everyone”, the Barça coach implicitly included Javier Tebas, the president of LaLiga and reluctant for Barça to re-register Messi if he does not lower the salary limit.
With Guardiola, Larsson and Riqui
“It is very important for the club and also for the Spanish League that the best player in the world continues here,” he added, before beginning his participation in the event, sponsored by Sportium and whose proceeds will go to the Hospital Materno Infantil de Sant Joan de Déu . Koeman played with his friend Pep Guardiola, Antonio Hostench, senior executive of the Cirsa Group and Santi Rosell, president of the golf club that hosted him. Henrik Larsson, his technical assistant, and Riqui Puig, a disciple of the squad.
The Koeman’s Cup is a charity tournament whose proceeds will go to the Hospital Materno Infantil de Sant Joan de Déu
The uneasiness around Messi extends to almost all the players in the squad. Very few have the site secured. No matter how good performance they have given and no matter how happy the club and the coach are with them, the serious debt and excess salary bill complicate everything. “Leo is the future of the club because of his effectiveness and because he has always shown his best,” he said. That is the priority.
There are players with a contract that Barça does not want them to continue (Umtiti, Pjanic), others that they will not be able to place due to injury (Dembélé, Coutinho) and, most, who must lower the ground because they charge too much for the current economic capacity. Those will also have to make “an effort” as Koeman claims, “for the good of Barça.” Those They are, for example, Antoine Griezmann, “a great signing who has shown his quality, very important for the team” and they are also the veterans and homegrown players of all their lives at Barça: Piqué, Busquets, Alba and Sergi Roberto. All, except Piqué, have leaked that they are reluctant to lower the card as requested, and needs, Barça.
A midfielder is missing
“Everyone has to know the moment in which we are in our life. If they are Barça people of many years, we have to make an effort to help the club as much as possible,” he said, acknowledging that several players have already lowered their chips or they accepted a postponement of some payments last season. The help that Koeman asks for should also serve to incorporate some more signings. A midfielder. “We are missing something in that line”, he stressed, aware that he will have to make do with what he can.
“I will count on all the players we have, and if there is any change, we will have to accept it”, transferring the final responsibility for decisions to President Joan Laporta. He will direct the staff left to him, aware that “circumstances” interfere with his will. Only Messi’s continuity is indisputable; the others are nothing short of expendable.
Koeman asks Pedri to rest. “For me, an Olympiad is more athletics than football,” he says.
Pedri has also become fundamental, but will not play the beginning of the League. In the absence of a month for the premiere, on August 14 against Real Sociedad at the Camp Nou, Barça has seven casualties. Four injured (Ter Stegen, Ansu Fati, Phillipe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembélé) and three footballers at the Tokyo Games: Pedri, Mingueza and Èric Garcia.
The canary contest is the one that worries the most. He was one of the players most used by Koeman at Barça (52 games out of 54, the most) and by Luis Enrique with Spain in the European Championship (he only lacked a minute to complete the total 630 minutes).
Koeman subscribed to Pep Guardiola’s thesis that young footballers should not participate in two major tournaments during a summer because of the wear and tear they suffer. “It is too much”, corroborated the Dutch technician. “For me an Olympiad is more athletics than football; for me football is a World Cup and a Eurocup,” he said, repeating that it was a mere personal appreciation. The Barça coach clamored for the footballers to be protected, but also for the clubs. His future on the Camp Nou bench will depend on the results, and on the first day his line-up will already be depleted.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.