Koeman talks Messi, Pedri, Frenkie, Roberto, Dest, Laporta, Barcelona
Following his dismissal as the manager of Barcelona, Ronald Koeman is now back at the helm of the Netherlands national team, taking over from another ex-Barça boss in Louis van Gaal.
The Dutch tactician and club legend was appointed as the manager of the Catalan heavyweights in 2020, after Quique Setien was sacked. While Koeman led the team to the Copa del Rey in his debut season, he never looked like the right fit.
And following a disappointing start to the 2021/22 campaign, Koeman was relieved of his duties by president Joan Laporta, with Xavi taking over from the Dutchman.
Under Xavi, Barcelona have made rapid strides and have already won the Spanish Super Cup, while occupying the top spot in La Liga.
During an interaction with Andy van der Meijde, Koeman spoke about Barça’s current situation under Xavi, claiming that they were performing well, but highlighting that he was not provided the same kind of squad during his tenure.
“Barça are doing great. I watched Barcelona vs Real Madrid, they played amazing football. They were so good. But, yeah, if you get up to 10-12 new players, things get a little easier. It depends on the quality of the squad. During my time that was different,” he said.
The Dutchman also spoke about his compatriot Frenkie de Jong, who has gone from being transferable in the summer to an untouchable in Xavi’s squad now. Talking about the midfielder’s performances, Koeman said:
“Frenkie is great. I think he’ll stay. He’s deservedly playing so much.”
One of the biggest positives of the Koeman era at Barcelona was the emergence of Pedri. The Dutchman handed the midfielder his first-team debut back in 2020 even though he was just 17 and the team is reaping the rewards of it.
The Netherlands manager, who has previously spken very highly of Pedri, opened up on the relationship between the youngster and Lionel Messi during their time together at Camp Nou, saying:
“Messi was very humble. He immediately noticed Pedri’s qualities and was willing to combine with him during games, unlike with some other players.”
Koeman also expressed his surprise at the ouster of Sergino Dest, a player he signed in 2020, from the Barcelona setup. The right-back left the club on loan in the summer, joining AC Milan, but the manager claimed that the USMNT ace was no worse than Sergi Roberto.
“Dest isn’t any worse than Roberto. I didn’t understand him leaving,” he said.
Koeman’s relationship with club president Laporta was not the easiest and the manner of his sacking has seemingly made things more frosty, as the Dutchman said: “After what happened with the president, I don’t go to Camp Nou nowadays.”