Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman may be facing an uncertain future at the Camp Nou but that has not stopped the Dutchman from making plans for next season as well as the upcoming summer transfer window.
The 58-year-old has reportedly drawn up a list of players who he believes the club can do without going forwards, according to Javi Miguel at AS. It’s a lengthy list consisting of nine players, although Koeman would also be willing to cope without Sergi Roberto, Clement Lenglet and Ousmane Dembélé if any good offers arrive.
The other nine players Koeman has deemed surplus to requirements are back-up goalkeeper Neto, defenders Junior Firpo and Samuel Umtiti, and midfielders Matheus Fernandes, Miralem Pjanic, and Riqui Puig. Forwards Francisco Trincao, Philippe Coutinho, and Martin Braithwaite complete the list.
Miguel adds that Koeman considers veterans Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, and Gerard Pique “very usable players, despite their age.” The Dutchman also views Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Frenkie de Jong, Ronald Araújo, Pedri, Ansu Fati, Sergiño Dest and Antoine Griezmann as “untouchable.” It goes without saying that Lionel Messi is also included on that list.
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Koeman Considering More Youngsters
It’s still not clear if Koeman will stay on at Barcelona, but one of the key factors that could keep the coach in his job for another season has been his willingness to use young players in 2020-21. Starlets such as Oscar Mingueza, Araujo, Pedri and Dest have all featured regularly and impressed in the first team.
Miguel reports that there are a host of other young players that Koeman would be willing to use a part of a “new project” next season if he does continue. Barca B goalkeeper Inaki Pena is mentioned along with Mingueza and Ilaix Moriba.
Barca B captain Alex Collado, USMNT starlet Konrad de la Fuente and exciting young talent Nico Gonzalez could also be handed opportunities to impress in the first team at the Camp Nou.
Both Collado and Konrad have already made their first-team debuts, while Gonzalez is highly-rated and recently signed a contract extension that will keep him with the Catalans until 2024. The youngster has been likened to Sergio Busquets already, and his new deal includes a buyout clause set at €500 million which shows just how valued he is at the club.
Umtiti Wants To Stay, Junior Attracting Interest
Meanwhile, speculation regarding the futures of Barcelona players has ramped up since the team’s season ended on Saturday. Defender Umtiti may be deemed surplus to requirements but does not want to leave the club, according to Gabriel Sans at Mundo Deportivo.
The Frenchman has struggled to find his best form since helping France win the World Cup in 2018 due to continuing knee problems and has fallen down the pecking order at the Camp Nou. Indeed Umtiti only started six La Liga games in 2020-21.
However, one player who is attracting interest is back-up left-back Firpo. The 24-year-old made only three La Liga starts last season and looks destined to leave in the summer if a buyer can be found.
Southampton, Napoli, and AC Milan are all keen on the former Real Betis defender, according to Moises Llorens at ESPN. The Premier League side has already enquired about Firpo’s situation and could sign him to replace Ryan Bertrand.