Ronald Koeman has only been in charge of Barcelona for a matter of months but has already made it clear there are a host of players who are not in his plans for the 2020-21 season.
According to AS, there are six stars who have barely featured under the Dutch coach in 2020-21 and look to be available ahead of the January transfer window. At the top of the list is midfielder Matheus Fernandes who only arrived in the summer.
Barca splashed out €7 million-plus €3m in add-ons to bring in Fernandes from Brazilian side Palmeiras, but the youngster has not even been officially presented by the Catalan giants. Perhaps more worryingly, the club’s coaching staff have already decided he’s not yet at the level required to play for Barcelona.
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Alena and Puig Face Uncertain Futures
Fernandes is not the only midfielder out of favor. Youngsters Riqui Puig and Carles Alena are also out in the cold. Puig has managed just three minutes for Barcelona so far in 2020-21, while Alena has fared little better with just seven minutes of action.
Koeman did warn the club’s youngsters it would be more beneficial for them to go out on loan this season, but both players wanted to continue and fight for their place. It remains to be seen if the duo will change their minds when the transfer window reopens.
Defenders Junior Firpo and Samuel Umtiti have also failed to impress Koeman. The Dutch coach “doesn’t count” on the left-back and indeed used right-back Sergino Dest in his position when first choice Jordi Alba was out injured.
Umtiti’s case is slightly different as the Frenchman has been out injured. The defender is on his way back but has not returned to full training and is not yet available to be included in the matchday squad.
No Goals For Braithwaite
The only other player who has barely featured, despite the lack of a pure No. 9 in the squad following Luis Suarez’s departure, is striker Martin Braithwaite. The Denmark international has not started a game yet for Koeman and has not scored in 2020-21.
Barca’s need to sell before they can buy means that all six players face uncertain futures at the Camp Nou. The Catalan giants want to bring in both Eric Garcia and Memphis Depy but will need to make room in the squad to sign the duo.
Koeman has been asked about some of the players who are struggling for minutes currently and told Sport they need to impress him if they are to get a chance in the first team.
The young players have to play, it’s not good for them to not have minutes. We need a deep squad to be able to make changes. I give them advice, but in the end, each player decides. I have spoken to them. If, in the end, you decide to stay with the team, you’re part of the squad and you have to show me that you deserve minutes. January will be a moment to evaluate their situation.
Barca still have plenty of games to play before the transfer window reopens. Koeman’s side play 10 fixtures in all competitions between now and the end of 2020, and the team’s fringe players will know they need to grab any chances they get in the coming weeks.