Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman offered an update on Ansu Fati’s fitness as the 18-year-old continues to recover from knee surgery.
Fati was originally ruled out for four months when he went under the knife back in November but is yet to return to full training. Koeman told a pre-match press conference on Saturday the youngster has suffered a setback but is working hard on his recovery.
“It’s true it’s taken a bit longer than we expected in the beginning because he had some issues to start with and that’s why it’s taken a bit more time than we expected, ” he said. “He’s now working well in the gym. In a few weeks, he will start training outside. He’s a young player, he needs to come back strong, and that’s the most important thing.”
Fati has reportedly targeted the Copa del Rey final against Athletic on April 17 for his comeback, but it’s still far from clear if he will be back in time for that game as he is still yet to return to full training.
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Koeman Names Squad For Real Sociedad Clash
Koeman was speaking to reporters ahead of Sunday’s match against Real Sociedad in La Liga. The Dutch coach has named a 22-man squad for the trip to Anoeta and is without Gerard Pique, Sergi Roberto, and Philippe Coutinho due to injury as well as Fati.
Yet Barca’s injury problems are easing. Roberto was back in light training on Saturday for the first time since suffering a recurrence of a thigh problem in the Copa del Rey win over Granada in February.
Roberto is expected to be available for selection after the international break, while Gerard Pique could also return from a knee injury for Barca’s first match back against Real Valladolid on April 5, according to Javier Miguel at AS.
Koeman Expecting Tough Test
Koeman also spoke about the tough test that awaits his side against Real Sociedad as his players bid to extend their 17-match unbeaten run. A victory would make it nine in a row away from home for Barca in the league, and Koeman admits it’s important to maintain the pressure on league leaders Atletico Madrid.
“I don’t think it’s a decisive match, or the most decisive match, but being a few points away from the league leaders it’s important to win. If we don’t then the gap will widen so we must get all three points,” he explained. “But it’s against a very difficult rival and they have a very good manager. They are a top team and it’s a difficult stadium but we must be at our best with and without the ball. It will be an interesting game tactically also.”
Sunday’s meeting is the third time this season the two teams have played each other. Barca won 2-1 at the Camp Nou in La Liga in December and also tasted victory over Real Sociedad in the Spanish Super Cup after a penalty shootout in January.