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Koeman talks Messi, Xavi, Pedri, Gavi, de Jong, Alba, Laporta, Negreira case




To sign Lionel Messi or to not sign Lionel Messi – that is the question burning in the offices of FC Barcelona as they plan ahead for the season of 2023/24.

The last time the Argentine ace played in the famous garnet-and-blues, he was under the stewardship of Ronald Koeman. The Dutch tactician’s spell at Barcelona crumbled just months after the talisman’s exit and Koeman has publicly talked multiple times about how Messi’s departure came as a shock to him as well.

Speaking at a public appearance earlier today, the former Barcelona manager shared his thoughts on Messi’s return, the club’s current season and specific players. He began the interview with a dig at the Catalan management for letting Messi go and advocated the former captain’s return.

“He is the best player in the world, anyone who can have him will be strong. I experienced his departure at first hand and it was a very bad day. When I see Leo in a different shirt, I still find it strange. I don’t know what the situation is or what Leo thinks. I’m in favour of Messi being a Barça player,” he said.

Xavi Hernandez was named Koeman’s successor midway through last season and it was publicly known that the Dutchman was very unhappy with the way his sacking was handled. Yet, he has very encouraging words for Xavi as the new coach, as he said:

“From the outside, he looks like the right person to me. He is improving, and they are making signings. I don’t know if it will be possible next season. He has been a Barça player and a very good one. He is a very good coach for this Barça.”

Barcelona’s links with the Negreira scandal caused a massive uproar and Koeman shared his thoughts on the matter, saying:

“It affects the image of the club a lot. I notice in the Netherlands that people think differently now. Barça have lost their image. It doesn’t help. I can’t say any more because I don’t know what has happened.”

“I’ve seen that UEFA wants to know what happened and you never know, but hopefully there will be no sanction,” he added.

Gavi has been one of the centre-pieces for the Catalan club across all competitions this season and the former coach, who handed him his debut, had special words for him.

“Gavi is very good and I saw his growth up close. He has great talent and personality. He will go far.”

Talking about Barcelona’s other young magician, Pedri, Koeman admitted that the youngster has been overworked for his age. He wished him a speedy recovery from his injury saying:

“As a young player, he played a lot of games. I remember when he played in the European Championship and the Olympic Games. Sometimes you think that young players can play more, but you have to protect them. He is an impressive player who has his feet on the ground.”

Frenkie de Jong was slated to join hands with Koeman again for the Dutch National Team in the recently concluded international break. However, he backed out in the final minute through injury. The Dutch coach clarified the situation and why exactly De Jong did not participate for Holland.

“He travelled, had tests, but he wasn’t well. He will probably be able to play soon. You have to think of the club and you can’t take someone who is not 100 per cent,” he said.

Winning La Liga is a big accomplishment for the Blaugranas considering they languished in tenth place just midway through last season at the time of Koeman’s sacking. The former manager insisted that the team’s performance this term had been phenomenal and called it a ‘big win.’

“It’s been several seasons since they’ve been champions. Barça are champions because of their quality and because they defend well. They have only conceded nine goals. It’s well deserved. The championship is always deserved and we have to celebrate it,” he said.

On the current season that Barcelona are going through, Koeman added: “They will almost certainly win the championship and of course, they have improved. These are different moments, the squad has been strengthened a lot.

“A coach is good or bad depending on the results. I saw the game the other day in which there were injured players, but there were good players on the pitch. On the bench was Alba, who for me is the best full-back in Spain.”

Touching upon his relationship with Barcelona president Joan Laporta, Koeman said: “You don’t have to talk about the past. The club will have its own thoughts on that. I’ve already said what I think, we have to look to the future. Barça goes on and I go on with my life. The damage will pass with time.”

Source: MARCA

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