Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman has already decided on the core group of players he wants to use this season, leaving seven stars set to spend most of the 2020-21 season on the sidelines.
According to Juan Jimenez at AS, defenders Junior Firpo and Samuel Umtiti, midfielders Carles Aleñá, Riqui Puig, and Matheus Fernandes, and forwards Ousmane Dembéle, Martin Braithwaite had all better get used to the bench.
Dembele is the only one of the seven to have first-team minutes this season but even those have come only as a substitute against Villarreal, and the forward is on “borrowed time” at the Camp Nou.
In defense, Umtiti “will only be used as an emergency,” while Firpo is now behind both Jordi Alba and new signing Sergino Dest in the pecking order. Meanwhile, midfielder Fernandes only arrived at the club this summer but is still waiting to be officially presented which hardly bodes well for his future.
Puig and Alena “have been all but discarded” by Koeman due to the fierce competition for places in midfield, while Braithwaite is only still a Barcelona player “because the club could not find an outlet” for the Denmark international.
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Koeman Reluctant to Make Changes
Koeman has been reluctant to make changes to his starting XI so far. He’s named virtually the same team for all three La Liga games against Villarreal, Celta, and Sevilla.
The only change that has been made was enforced by Clement Lenglet being suspended for the visit of Sevilla. Ronald Araujo took the Frenchman’s place in the lineup.
Those 11 players and Araujo will be relied upon for the rest of the campaign by Koeman, along with new signings Pedri, Francisco Trincão, Miralem Pjanic, and Sergino Dest. Injured goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen will also be a regular once he returns from knee trouuble.
Koeman has spoken to Barca TV about his happiness at how his team have performed in the early weeks of the season which suggests he’s not looking to make major changes to his team.
“Overall, the team have looked very good, above all against Villarreal and Celta Vigo. However, if we look at the game against Sevilla, we can improve our pressing. There are details that can be corrected.
“We ask for the utmost concentration and intensity in training, so that it is automatically reflected in games. That’s why training has a greater intensity: Because how you train is how you play.
“Defence always starts with the forwards. If they press well, then our defenders don’t have as many problems. Defending is a team thing, and that could be one of the reasons that our defence has got better.”
Yet rotation may be needed towards the end of the month when Barcelona face challenges both at home and in Europe. The team play four games in 11 days against Getafe, Ferencvaros, Real Madrid, and Juventus that will test Koeman’s squad depth.