Koeman is putting the future of the Frenchman in the hands of the club and values Messi’s message of unity: “To be happy, you have to win games.” He confirms the signing of Dest and has faith that a number 9 can still arrive.
Speaking ahead of Barcelona’s trip to Balaídos to take on Celta Vigo on Thursday, head coach Ronald Koeman discussed several topics including Dest, Messi and signing a new striker.
What do you expect from Celta?
We expect a difficult match. They have also told me that in recent years Barça has not been able to win in Vigo. It is a complicated team, with good players. We have to be be ready for it and play our own game to win.
Messi has asked for unity. Is it the best news?
I don’t know if after Leo’s statements I’m going to have a quiet life, I don’t think so. But it is positive that the captain is asking for unity. This has always been positive. Hopefully we are going to be calmer than in recent times.
What expectations do you have for Dest?
He’s doing his medical and his contract still needs to be signed. I will not comment until he has signed. We are going to have a young side. It is a matter of changing things and having young players for the future of this club. Yes it is good because he, despite his age, has played in the Champions League and I am sure, when all the contracts are signed, that he will be good for Barça.
Is Dembélé a key player or would it be right to sell him?
This situation is in the club’s and player’s hands. As long as he is with us, I will count on him. He has not played from the beginning because there are more players and Ansu Fati has proven to be good. You have to wait for your opportunity. He has had a slump in recent weeks but today has been good and I will count on him.
What can you do to make Messi fully happy?
You have to find the best team for him, where he can shine and where he gets the most from. I have seen that he lives for football, even in training matches he does everything to win. For Leo to be happy, we have to win games.
Are you a supporter of VAR?
In Holland and in other countries, there is controversy. On the subject of the handball especially. It’s very complicated. The referee’s job is even more complicated. I think they sometimes go too far with VAR. But at the end of the season, you will look back and see that VAR has been for and against you at several points over the year. On the offside, I agree with VAR. On the subject of handball, no. They are blowing up too much.
Are you still confident that Depay can come to Barcelona?
We have to analyse the squad, analyse what we lack. We know that financially the club has its problems, like everyone else. There are one or two positions where we need to improve. And I’m not going to lie to you. We are working. There are options but it is complicated. The club is going to work hard to make more transfers. If not, we will use our players because I have no complaints from the ones we have.
Griezmann played very little against Villarreal. Are you worried you won’t find a spot for him in the side?
It does not worry me. Antoine is doing things well. He is playing from the right, but not stuck on the wing, with freedom. He does things well and I managed a Holland-France game and he started from that position.
What is your plan for Rafinha?
For players who won’t play much, it is better for them to look for new opportunities. I know that Rafinha has been on loan and can’t continue to be on loan every season. We have a lot of midfielders, we will have to look for the best for the team.
What is more important, the signing of a striker or a center-back?
One position is not more important than the other. These are two positions in which we are a bit light. With Gerard, Lenglet and Araujo we are short. That is why we have called up Santi Ramos from Barça B.
How will Braithwaite fit in your plans?
We want to have two or three players per position. We have put Leo as a nine, Griezmann can play there, but they are different players. Martin is more than a nine and will have his chances but we want one more striker.