Barcelona Players Riled By Koeman Decision: Report

Barcelona

Getty Barcelona players warm up before taking on Atletico

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman opted to criticize 19-year-old midfielder Nico Gonzalez after his team’s 2-0 La Liga defeat to Atletico Madrid and the Dutchman’s comments have reportedly not been appreciated in the dressing room.

Koeman blamed the teenager for Atletico’s opening goal scored by Thomas Lemar at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. The Dutchman told a post-match press conference that “Nico let Lemar run for their opening goal” and insisted “our midfielders needed to follow their men.”

Javier Miguel at Diario AS reports Koeman’s criticism “did not sit well” with the players who feel it’s not the first time the coach has singled out individuals in this way. Miguel adds that Koeman may feel supported by his players but “a good part of the squad has long since stopped believing in the Dutch coach.”

The players think that publicly criticizing the teenager is “not considered the best way of learning and much less in order to give him confidence.” One of the senior players even went to Nico to offer support after he had been taken off at half-time.

Miguel adds that Nico acknowledged after the game that he was “confused on that specific play where Lemar ended up scoring.” It’s thought that there wouldn’t have been a problem had Koeman spoken to Nico directly about his mistake but airing his grievances in public “is seen as a lack of tact.”

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Fans React to Koeman’s Comments

Koeman’s comments have also not gone down well with Barcelona followers in the wake of another disappointing result for the Catalan giants under Koeman.

Squawka Football’s Muhammad Butt called Koeman’s words “disgraceful” on Twitter.

Barcelona writers Diana Kristinne and Kevin Williams also made their views on Koeman’s criticism pretty clear on social media.

Gonzalez’s appearance against Atletico was just his second start for the first team and only his sixth in total for Barcelona. The 19-year-old, who is the son of former Deportivo La Coruna player Fran Gonzalez, is still technically part of the reserves but has been handed chances in the first team after impressing in pre-season.


Nico Linked With Manchester City Again

Nico’s breakthrough into the first team has brought fresh speculation about interest from Premier League champions Manchester City.  The Citizens want a replacement for Fernandinho and manager Pep Guardiola thinks Nico would be a good signing, acccording to Fichajes.

City tried, and failed, to bring Nico to the Etihad Stadium last season, according to Goal’s Adria Soldevila. The midfielder ended up signing a new contract with Barcelona that runs until 2024 and contains a buyout clause set at €500 million ($585m).

Luring the teenager away from the Camp Nou is unlikely to be easy, particularly after he’s already enjoyed a taste of first-team football, and with Sergio Busquets heading to the end of his career.

Busquets turned 33 in July this year and will know his days as an automatic starter at Barca are numbered. Nico already looks the perfect replacement and the Barca squad’s reaction to Koeman’s criticism shows the faith the players already have in the teenager.

READ NEXT: Pique and Busquets Clash During Barcelona vs Atletico [WATCH]


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