Former Barcelona manager and current Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman appeared at the opening of the ‘Ronald Koeman Cup by Fundacion Sportium’, a golf tournament, during which he talked about the Blaugrana, their transfer policies, and several other topics.
Koeman has been bitter about how he was treated by club president Joan Laporta during his tenure as the manager and once again touched on the matter, saying:
“I know that there is a risk as a coach when things are not going well, a coach can be sacked, I have no problem, it is not the first time it has happened to me, but it is how to treat someone, an important person for the club and he has not been very honest and that is why I have my own thoughts and my own things.”
On whether he would be willing to rebuild his relationship with Laporta, Koeman said: “I don’t know, things have to happen but the way I have been treated is not the way they have shown.”
Koeman had predicted that Lionel Messi would not return to Barcelona this summer and that is how it happened as the Argentine signed for Inter Miami where he has been joined by Sergio Busquets and could also reunite with Jordi Alba.
“The situation is totally different than two years ago with Messi. It was a big mistake to let him leave. I always hoped that he would stay at Barça for the rest of his life, it was a big mistake to let him go,” Koeman stated.
Barcelona have made two signings this summer, bringing in Ilkay Gundogan and Inigo Martinez, both of whom are 32 years old. Criticising the policy of signing ageing players instead of investing in the future, Koeman said:
“There is no need to discuss a signing like Gundogan, he is a great player and a great professional like Lewandowski, but it is only for a short time because they are of a certain age.
“You can’t sign two or three players of this type every season, you have to work for the future. Signing a 22-year-old is better for the future than signing a 33 or 34-year-old.”
“I like Gündogan because he is a great player but it is a moment, I think, for a club that has to look to the future, that there are young people and the structure of the club has to be for the next years. For Lewandowski, you can argue, and with other players, but it’s only for two or three years,” he added.
During his time at the club, Koeman handed debuts to several youngsters such as Pedri, Gavi, Alejandro Balde, and Nico Gonzalez with three of them going on to become a key part of the team. Talking about that, the Dutchman said:
“When I was coach, there was no money and no possibility to sign. Then I saw players like Pedri, Gavi, Nico, and some more very good talents. In the Netherlands, we are used to giving young players a chance. I don’t care if he is 20 or 32 years old. Any club has to work for a good future.”
On Nico, who spent the last season on loan at Valencia, and could again be shipped off this summer, the Netherlands boss said: “These are decisions that a coach and the club have to make. Nico went to Valencia and they are young players who can cover a position that Barça need. You always have to look at home first.”
Instead, Barcelona are targeting Oriol Romeu to bolster the pivot position this summer, with Xavi seeking an experienced individual for the role over someone like Nico. Koeman gave his two cents about the possible signing of Romeu, saying:
“I have no doubt that Oriol is a player of this level, he has proved it this season in Girona with a great season. He can occupy that position very well, but he is a new player who is quite old. I am in favour of looking for younger players in certain positions who have a future beyond two or three years.”
On the matter of Barcelona missing out on Arda Guler’s signing to Real Madrid, the Barça legend said:
“The player has to choose where he wants to go. At Barça, a lot of things go out to the press and you have to try to work well and look for the best for the club. He is a young player who has to explode but he has qualities.”
On a reassuring note, Koeman claimed that Frenkie de Jong is very happy at Barcelona and does not think of leaving the club even though many clubs would love to have a player like him.
“A lot of clubs want to sign a player like Frenkie de Jong, but what I know from him is that he is very happy here and is not thinking of leaving,” he said.
The manager also clarified that Barcelona did not owe him any due payments, stating: “The club doesn’t owe me any money.”