FC Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has spoken on comments made by Lionel Messi to the press, the signing of Sergino Dest and others before the close of the transfer window, plus which system he will adopt and whether there will be rotations for Thursday’s clash against Celta Vigo.
Probed immediately on a wide-ranging interview with SPORT that the captain had published on Wednesday morning, Koeman said, “There’s never a quiet day, but it is always positive that the captain of the team [Messi] gives this message, and let’s see if we have a little more tranquility now.”
He was then asked about the signing of Sergino Dest and answered that the right back “is undergoing a medical examination and still has to sign the contract”. “I prefer to wait [before commenting],” Koeman added, “but when he signs he will be a very useful player for Barça, with experience in the Champions League and a lot of quality.”
There have been rumors that Ousmane Dembele is on his way to Manchester United, but Koeman insists that he is “here” with the Blaugrana and trusted to perform.
“He hasn’t played as a starter because Ansu [Fati] has shown that he is a very good player for this team. It is true that he had a bit of a physical downturn in recent weeks but he has trained well today and I will count on him.”
Regarding controversy with VAR, Koeman stressed that this happens in all of the countries he has been to. “Sometimes they go too far with VAR, but at the end of the season there is a balance. I am in favor of VAR with offsides, [but] I do not agree so much with VAR on the handballs,” Koeman admitted.
“First we must analyze what we lack in the squad. Then we must see the economic problems of the team,” Koeman began, on the transfer window which is set to close on October 5. “We must not deceive [ourselves], there are two positions in which we need things. For the [number] 9, we need to strengthen ourselves. The club will work to do that, and if we not, we will work with the ones we have because I have no complaints with my players.”
On Antoine Griezmann, who has been moved to the opposite flank this season but failed to make an impact against Villarreal, Koeman said, “He is doing things very well because he plays from the right wing and has much more freedom of movement. In the Netherlands-France [game] he also played from the right. I think he is playing very well and I’m very happy with his work.”
As for Barça’s new 4-2-3-1 formation and which they will adopt tomorrow, Koeman said, “For me the important thing is that we have a system in which everyone feels comfortable, and that there is competition for that system. But that doesn’t mean that sometimes it can’t be changed. We must take into account the opposition and see where they can hurt us. We do not know if Celta will play with a 4-4-2 or a 5-3-2. So the most important thing is to work our system and if we work little by little we will assume what we need.”
“We have worked very intensively and tactically in the four weeks of preseason,” Koeman expanded further. “We only have one game, then the national teams [take over the calendar] … we may make a change, but we will not do rotations because right now we don’t need to.”