Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman spoke about Riqui Puig, Philippe Coutinho, and Ansu Fati after Saturday’s Joan Gamper Trophy win over Elche at the Camp Nou.
Unsurprisingly, Koeman was asked about Puig after the game and insisted the midfield starlet does still have a future at the Camp Nou but that he feels a loan spell would be useful.
“It’s not true that I don’t count on him. I was speaking with Riqui Puig yesterday. For me, the young players have to play. They can’t not play.
“That’s for Riqui, for Aleña, for Pedri… they have to play. I told Riqui that he has a future here but it’s going to be tough at the moment because of competition in his position. I recommended that he goes on loan. At 20, the young players need to play.”
Koeman also spoke about Coutinho who is back at the club after a season-long loan at Bayern Munich. The Brazilian looks set for a key role under the new Barcelona boss, and Koeman offered his thoughts on the forward.
“I hope we see a great version of him. For me he is a great player. He works well physically and with the ball. He is an important player for the team.”
Coutinho picked up the MVP trophy after Saturday’s win over Elche.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) September 19, 2020
Ansu Fati also looked lively for Barcelona on his return to action following a hip injury. The 17-year-old has missed his team’s first two pre-season friendlies but was in from the start and stakede a strong claim for a place in the starting XI for next week’s clash against Villarreal.
Koeman praised the teenager after the game but called for a bit more composure from the Spain international forward.
“He’s a great player. I think he had more chances today, he needed more concentration.”
Antoine Griezmann scored the only goal of the game after two minutes to make it three wins out of three in pre-season for the Catalan giants.
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Perfect Start For Koeman
Saturday’s victory means that Koeman has won all three pre-season friendlies and has a perfect record ahead of the new season. However, the real business begins next Sunday when Barca open up their La Liga campaign at home to Villarreal.
Koeman seemed happy enough with his team’s performance but felt his side should have scored more than just the one goal.
“We have exerted good pressure at the start. We have stolen many balls and we have had opportunities, but we have not scored them. We have had some minutes in which we have been the best Barça so far, the first 20 minutes of the second half.
“But I am unhappy because we have only scored one goal. And we have had many chances. There is no lack of quality, there are many players with performance to score more. In the end we have been tired, but it is normal. In general, we have done a good match.”
The new Barca boss now has a week to prepare his team for Villarreal who have already played twice in La Liga. The Yellow Submarine started with a 1-1 draw at home to Huesca but beat Eibar 2-1 on Saturday.