Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has given his feedback on key issues ranging from the recent comments made by Neymar regarding a reunion with Lionel Messi, the LaLiga title chances of rivals Atletico Madrid prior to a clash with Cadiz on Saturday and interim president Carlos Tusquets’ admission that he would have sold Messi off in the summer had it been his call to do so.
On tomorrow’s match, Koeman said that he expects a Cadiz that will give Barca a “lot of the ball”. “They seem to be having a hard time winning at home, but they’re getting good results, and it’s a tricky ground where we have to be focused to play at our best level and score,” he added.
Unavoidably, Koeman was queried on comments from ex-Barca star Neymar, who said midweek that his reunion with Lionel Messi must happen next season one way or another, which has inevitably sparked rumors of a switch to PSG for the Argentine. To his credit, Koeman didn’t give away much on the sensitive matter.
“We know Leo’s situation,” he said. “If there’s one person who can decide their future, it’s Leo. I’m not interested in comments from the outside – only those inside the club – which don’t help us to have the peace of mind to win matches. We can’t control outsiders, but from the inside it’s different.”
“As a club you should always try to have the best players here,” Koeman quipped, when asked if he would like Neymar to return to Catalonia.
“I don’t like to talk individually, but as a player, as a coach, I made it clear that I like to watch the world’s best. If they both end up at the same club, even better,” Koeman clarified.
Interim president Carlos Tusquets insensitively sparked controversy through his own remarks yesterday, when admitting that, economically-speaking, it might have been better for a heavily cash-strapped Barcelona to sell their most-prized asset Messi when he had expressed his desire to leave for Manchester City in the summer.
“It may be his personal opinion and I respect it, but Leo has one more year on his contract and has to say [whether he wants to be sold]. I don’t like to pass comment on all the comments there are about it,” Koeman stressed.
Koeman’s men are nine points behind Atletico Madrid, following the 1-0 loss to them at the Wanda last month, and he was asked whether Diego Simeone’s side are favorites to lift the La Liga title for the first time since 2014.
“Atletico is a strong team,” Koeman admitted, “but it’s a long season, and we have to keep fighting every game and try not to lose matches. We have to see the positives by trying to win matches and not lose points.”
Lastly, on the much hoped for and keenly-anticipated reemergence of crowds at stadiums in Spain’s top flight, which has been earmarked for January, Koeman said, “All countries are looking for the public to return [to watch matches], but each country has to look at it based on health. We are not doctors, but hopefully we will soon have them at the ground, though we must not force [it] because health is the most important thing in life.”