Barcelona will hope to bounce back to winning way as they travel to the El Alcoraz stadium in Huesca to take on the city-club in round 17 of La Liga. Barcelona have some injury issues, including a new victim in the form of Philippe Coutinho, who is expected to be out for four to five months at the bare minimum.
Ronald Koeman sat down for his pre-game press conference to address several topics with the media including Lionel Messi’s return, the La Liga schedule, and how the club will cope in the January transfer window.
On the match and La Liga
Koeman started on a wholesome note, by greeting everyone a new year: “I wish everyone a happy new year, with a lot of success for the club. I also wish a lot of health, especially to Eusebio. He is a great man and I want to send him all the encouragement, to him and his family.”
On the Huesca clash: “Any game is complicated, there’s a lot of competition, regardless of the standings. We have to be good, prepared. We have to improve as a team in several respects.”
On the race for La Liga: “We can’t lose any more games in the race for La Liga.”
On Lionel Messi
On Messi’s return to the squad list: “Messi is fine, he has trained on the 30th and 31st, days that his teammates had days off. He has not had any more discomfort and he’s eager.”
On Messi’s future: “Leo has said that he will not decide his future now and we have to respect it. We shouldn’t worry.”
On being too depending on Messi: “Messidependencia? I think it’s still there, yes. This has been the case many years, he has resolved many games. That’s why he’s the best in the world.”
On an important January
On the possibility of new signings: “If we don’t sign, it’s because of the club or the financial situation. With Ramon Planes we have prepared how we think the club should be. We have the plan, but we don’t decide. The new president has to do it.”
On the possibility of fans returning to stadiums: “I’m looking forward to football games with public. We need a normal world. We also have to wait and see who will be the new president, but there are so many games that there is no time to think about anything else.”
On Luis Suarez and the ineffiency of the squad
On if he regrets letting Suarez leave: “No, I don’t regret letting go of Suárez. I always highlighted his qualities. The decision was already made by the club and him. The injuries of Coutinho is a blow, like the ones of Fati, Piqué and Sergi.”
On the inability to capitalise on chances: “There are a lot of players who need to be more effective, including the midfielders. It’s not just Griezmann. We create a lot of chances, we are the ones who create the most…”
On possible January departures: “Players going out on loan? Yes. I think that some players have to play games and in this club they have it complicated.”
Ousmane Dembélé talks Tuchel, Messi, Eto’o, Laporta
In an interview with BeIN Sports, Ousmane Dembele spilled beans on various topics ranging from football to personal life. The interview was conducted before yesterday’s Clásico.
The French winger is reportedly a player who the new president, Joan Laporta, admires a lot. Even during his campaign, the Catalan lawyer raised the issue of Dembele’s renewal. The club has invested heavily in Dembele and has finally started to reap results.
When asked the question about his contract renewal, Dembele explained: “My future? I still have a year left on my contract. There have been no discussions with the club, I’m happy and I feel good.
“A new president has arrived and I don’t really know him, but he is very close to the players. We’ll see how it goes.”
In all the reports that have come out and interviews given by the young players, all of them have mentioned that the club captain, Lionel Messi shares an exceptional with this new generation of players.
On the same lines the World Cup winner said: “Messi gives confidence to the young players in the team and helps us a lot. He gives me advice.”
Dembele is said to be liking his new role up top in the newly found 3-5-2 system by Koeman. He jokingly said in the interview that the dressing room now relates him to Samuel Eto’o, a former Barça legend: “As I now play up top, they call me Samuel Eto’o in the dressing room.”
The Barça winger had an excellent season at Dortmund which led to multiple European giants going into a bidding war for him.
His strike partner during his days in Germany was Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whom the Frenchman regarded as `his favorite teammate’. He also said that `Thomas Tuchel is his favorite coach’.