Friday, January 28

Koeman’s children at Barça

  • The coach drives by conviction and necessity a promising generation of young talents

  • Pedri leads that hopeful and youthful light that illuminates Barça after the darkness that was 2-8

  • “We put them on because they deserve it,” says the coach, convinced that they are “the future of the club”

Every so often, a new child comes out. It goes in their culture. In Dutch culture where there is no fear of opening the door for young people. It is a necessity in times of crisis. But it is also pure conviction, because if youth talent stands out there is no reason to close the way. There was a time when Van Gaal, and the notebook that was brought from Holland, was badly looked at by the stands of the Camp Nou, but it left a seed that will always remain in the culé memory.

Pedri. Midfield player. 18 years. 40 matches. 2,693 minutes played.

Van Gaal believed and Puyol when he had the ticket on the way to Malaga, he swallowed his pride with the rebel Valdes and saw in the tiny Xavi what the house technicians had already detected years before, in addition to trusting that the natural talent of Iniesta he would end up seducing everyone, over and above any physical prejudice. Or when class is imposed on muscle. The brain runs more than the legs.

The ‘Araujo impact’

TO Koeman, who worked at that time as an assistant to Van gaal and link between Barça B, where all those players and the first team traveled, he loves to bet on the youth. Divine treasure for the technician, convinced that age is not in any way an inconvenience.

Ronald Araujo. Defending. 22 years. 21 matches. 1,669 minutes played.

On the contrary, it is a blessing. He cares little about knowing the adolescent. You are only interested in its quality, something that is not registered in any DNI. It has been able to illuminate Pedri, whom he did not know at all, such as promoting Ilaix, the young midfielder for whom Barça made such an economic effort to retain him that he skipped all the hierarchies established in La Masia.

“There is one, his name is Pedri, signed from Las Palmas. I don’t know him but they say it must be the new Laudrup, the new Iniesta. I don’t know him. We’ll see, he’s the greatest talent in all of Spain,” said the Barça coach on the way from the Camp Nou before starting his first training session.

Ilaix Moriba. Midfield player. 18 years. 6 matches. 233 minutes played.

Koeman saw it. And Koeman got it. Since then, a Canarian prodigy, landed directly from the Second Division, has become one of the sensations of Spanish and European football, even capable of MbappeAfter the game at the Parque de los Príncipes, I asked him for his shirt as a souvenir.

Pedri’s subtle and deceptive intelligence, not only thinks faster than others but also runs and recovers balls, contrasts with Araujo’s power. He is Uruguayan and central, so there is no better chemistry to define a defender, forced to improve, as Koeman demands, “with the ball at his feet.” When he does not have it, he makes his conquest a matter of honor, almost of life or death.

Oscar Mingueza. Defending. 21 years. 28 matches. 2,033 minutes played.

Ansu Fati, work of Valverde

With Mingueza, who was not the undisputed starter behind Barça B last season, more of the same. He exhibits versatility (right-handed center back, right back), personality and, above all, energy for a team that needs vigor after years and years of sluggishness, so chameleonic that it can be adequately adapted to various tactical suits.

Francisco Trincao. Forward. 21 years. 34 games, 1,146 minutes played.

While Ansu Fati will forever belong to the courage of Valverde, who opened the Camp Nou dressing room for him when he was just 16 years old, Ilaix Moriba undoubtedly bears the Koemanian stamp. Different midfielder, far from the traditional stereotype, with power and goal, irreverent when he looks into the area, happy also when he jogs into the open field.

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Sergiño Dest. Defending. 20 years. 30 matches. 2,067 minutes.

He works with what the coach has, despite the fact that he requested signings in summer (only Dest arrived, the only one who bears his signature) and in winter (no one arrived). Look down and put it up. It is not a pose. Not much less. “We put them on because they deserve it,” argues Koeman, recalling that “people like Pedri, Ilaix, Riqui” (the one who uses the least), “Araujo and Mingueza are the future of the club.” With them, including Trincao, another young talent, he plays while waiting for Laporta to give him decisive stars.

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