Barcelona players were reportedly left “surprised” and annoyed by coach Ronald Koeman’s post-match comments after Saturday’s 1-0 win over Eibar in the team’s final game of the 2020-21 season.
Koeman was critical of the quality of the squad after seeing his team finish the campaign in third place behind champions Atletico Madrid and runners-up Real Madrid, as reported by Adria Fernandez at Diario Sport.
“The moment we arrived, we took on a squad that was already put together. (Our) only signing was Sergino Dest. And for me, this squad is not at the level we want to have at Barca,” he said. “That’s clear.Many people at the club think the same. We’re trying to improve the squad. There are older players, with all respect, that have shown they have the level for this team. And there are a lot of young players, who have to learn more, gain more experience.”
The Dutchman’s comments did not go down well with the players, according to Ivan San Antonio at Diario Sport. The players were particularly surprised given Koeman had demanded respect from the dressing room before the match and now seemed to be doubting his players.
Koeman’s criticism subsequently “created tension” on the trip back to Barcelona from a squad who had previously viewed the coach as “quite straightforward and sincere” but feel “this has not been the case this week.”
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Koeman Sends Message After Season End
Koeman’s future at Barcelona is uncertain after a disappointing end to the season, and he gathered the squad together on Sunday to say goodbye. Many of the players are heading off on holidays, while other will begin preparations for the Copa America and European Championship shortly.
According to Javi Miguel at AS, Koeman wished his players luck at the meeting and told the squad, “I hope to see you in July.” Almost the entire squad was present at the meeting except for injured duo Philippe Coutinho and Ansu Fati. Midfielder Pedri was also absent after being given permission to take an early vacation.
Koeman also took to social media with a photograph of the entire staff together and a message that read, “Players and staff, thank you for an eventful year. A season with the first trophy of a new era.” Barca lifted the Copa del Rey under Koeman in April after beating Athletic 4-0.
Barca Set For ‘Decisive Week’
Barcelona’s season may be over but the club is set for a “decisive week,” according to Catalunya Radio. President Joan Laporta is set to meet with Koeman to discuss whether he will stay on for another season and see out his contract at the Camp Nou.
The Catalan giants must also get to work on sorting out Lionel Messi’s future. The Argentine is waiting to hear about the sports project on offer at Barcelona before committing his future to the club.
Laporta will also be working on potential signings. Free agents Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia, and Memphis Depay have all been heavily linked with a move to the Catalan giants in the summer transfer window.