Tag Archives: Barcelona

Ronald Koeman defends Pique slamming Barcelona Board


Ronald Koeman has come to defence of Gerard Pique after the defender gave a controversial interview slamming Barcelona’s board.

On the eve of El Clasico against Real Madrid, Pique sat down with La Vanguardia to talk the future of Lionel Messi, president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the social media scandal which has seen the LaLiga club allegedly attack its own players.

Pique’s comments, particularly the ones aimed at the ‘outrageous’ board, proved agenda-setting in Spain ahead of El Clasico.

But for Koeman, the 33-year-old is ‘a clever guy’ and knows the added scrutiny he has placed on himself going into one of the biggest games of the season.

‘He’s been here a long time and I’ve been here three months,’ Koeman said. ‘He’s got his opinion and I respect that.

‘He’s a clever guy and he knows when he does these interviews that he’s got a game the next day and that he’ll play well.’

It has been a tumultuous 12 months with Barcelona now onto their third manager of 2020 having sacked two-time LaLiga winner Ernesto Valverde in January, and his successor, Quique Setien, after the 8-2 humiliation by Bayern Munich in the Champions League in August.


But the big story of the year was Lionel Messi submitting a burofax informing the board, who he had lost faith in, that he intended to leave in the summer, a year before his contract was due for expiry.

Pique was reportedly among a gaggle of players to stay quiet in the middle of the saga but he has since spoken out on the poor handling of the situation by president Bartomeu.

Pique added: ‘As president I would have acted differently. I asked Leo to stay on.

‘I didn’t have much dealings with him those days because I thought it was a very personal decision. I only said: “Leo, it’s a year, and then new people will come.”

‘I asked myself: “How can it be that the best player in history, who we have had the incredible luck to enjoy, gets up one day and sends a burofax because he feels that they are not listening to him?” Everything is too shocking. What’s going on?

‘Leo deserves everything. The new stadium and its sponsor should have his name (on it).’

Real Madrid travel to the Nou Camp three points ahead of Barcelona in LaLiga, albeit having played a further game.

Pressure is on both managers, with Real manager Zinedine Zidane reportedly under the microscope following back-to-back defeats to Cadiz and Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.


In contrast Koeman will welcome back Jordi Alba for the visit of Real. The full-back picked up a hamstring injury against Sevilla at the start of the month but has returned sooner than expected to be in line to feature.

The Dutch boss will, however, be without first-choice goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen and defender Samuel Umtiti.

Koeman, 57, played in 14 Clasicos while at Barcelona as a player, but admitted it was a new feeling going into it as coach.

‘Hopefully I’ll sleep alright! Of course it’s different, the best thing would be going out there on the pitch, but my playing days are behind me,’ he said.

‘So the next best thing is to be as close to the pitch as possible. We know it’s an important match but I’m used to that kind of pressure.’

The excitement for the first Clasico of the season, which is being broadcast on LaLigaTV, has seen LaLiga roll out the red carpet across the globe.

It is a game which brings immense scrutiny and Koeman will know a poor showing from Pique will see his interview come back to bite him.


Eight Barcelona players set to make their El Clasico debut


There isn’t a football match quite like the Clasico, yet Barcelona could be in the rather novel position on Saturday of having eight players who could make their first ever appearance in the famed clash with Real Madrid.

article image

For a young footballer, being able to play in such a match is the stuff of dreams, but very few get to imagine it in reality, especially over the last decade when the teams at both clubs were so settled and full of quality.

Now though, there is a degree of unpredictability about both teams, you can’t be sure which personnel will be selected and even then you can’t be sure what they will play like.

article image

Unless it was in the Copa del Rey, Neto’s chance of being involved in a Clasico was almost zero, yet with Marc-Andre ter Stegen getting an injury he will be between the posts for the mammoth clash.

article image

The American international has just arrived and this will be one of those matches that he will remember for a long time, be that a positive or a negative.

Jordi Alba is rushing to be back in time to play, but as things stand it will be Dest who plays from the start.

article image

In principle, the Uruguayan won’t be part of Ronald Koeman’s starting XI plans with both Clement Lenglet and Gerard Pique available. If either of those players suffers an injury either before or during the match, Araujo will be drafted in, given he is now the team’s third-choice central defender.

article image

Firpo is still behind Dest in the pecking order, even with the American on the wrong side, but if he somehow is involved it will be his first Clasico appearance.

article image

Barcelona’s marquee signing of the summer impressed in the midweek victory over Ferencvaros, completing 92% of his 80 attempted passes, and now he will be tasked with carrying that form into his first ever Clasico.

It isn’t likely that he will be a starter with Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong both available, but Pjanic has a lot of experience at the top level and knows how they should be played.

article image

Prior to the start of the LaLiga Santander season, Koeman informed Riqui Puig that he wouldn’t get a lot of minutes in the senior team, but the player opted to stay. This gives him a chance of getting his first taste of Clasico action, although it’s difficult to see that chance being anything other than remote.

article image

One of the sensations of the current Barcelona team, the 17-year-old is showing himself to be extremely capable of playing for Los Cules, irrespective of the scale of the fixture. Koeman is responding to his efforts and trusts him enough to hand the Spaniard senior minutes.

Now, giving him the same minutes in a Clasico is another matter, but it wouldn’t at all be a surprise if he was the first substitution made.

article image

Another player who benefitted from the Champions League clash with Ferencvaros, Trincao has excited supporters with how he has settled into life at the Camp Nou. The right-wing position seemingly belongs to Antoine Griezmann, but Trincao’s form is making it harder and harder for the Dutch coach to leave him on the sideline.


Barcelona is more Popular in USA than Real Madrid


Ahead of the first Clasico of the 2020/21 season on Saturday, Barcelona have taken a victory in one of the off pitch proxy battles with it proven that the Blaugrana are more popular than Real Madrid in the United States of America.

Whilst the country itself has somewhat bigger priorities at the present moment in terms of who will take possession of the White House in 2021, the popularity of European football in America is on the rise.

As part of a study conducted in 2016, Gilt Edge Soccer Marketing found that the most well supported teams in the USA were Barcelona and Real Madrid, in that order.

Four years on, the study has been readdressed and extended with the main European leagues being taken into account, with the Premier League, LaLiga Santander and Bundesliga being the biggest of the selection.


The number of searches on google and the digital footprint left on each club’s respective Facebook posts helped build the data.

As such, the first conclusion that 60 percent of the most supported teams in the USA come from the Premier League, although none of them were at the very top.

Barcelona and Real Madrid occupied the top two positions, although it was the Catalan giants who once again took the crown.

With regards to the American clubs in the list, the highest rank they achieved was 12th which belonged to the Los Angeles Galaxy.

As a general overview, the Premier League is the most watched league in America, with LaLiga Santander being the second.

Although, beyond the two behemoth clubs in Spain, there is little interest in the action which takes place below them. The same metrics are shown with regards to the French Ligue 1, where only Paris Saint-Germain are really watched by members of the US population.


Both teams needs the win; ‘Blockbuster El Classico Will be tough’


The Clasico is always billed as a blockbuster. It’s usually a thriller, occasionally a horror story for one of the two sides. But this Saturday, with 99,000 empty seats, it will feel more like a silent movie, and a very strange one at that.

article image
Rarely have both clubs come into the fixture in so much turmoil. Madrid are in pieces on the pitch after two of their worst performances under Zinedine Zidane. And Barcelona are in bits off it with boardroom dramas a constant in the Catalan capital.

Madrid are suffering off the pitch too, in as much as they share Barcelona’s financial concerns. And not everything is perfect on the field for Barca who slipped up last weekend away to Getafe, making it the first day in which both of the big two had lost without scoring since 2000.

It was in May of the 1999-2000 season that Barca lost 2-0 to Rayo Vallecano while Real Madrid were beaten 1-0 by Alaves. The Clasicos that season ended 3-0 to Real Madrid and 2-2. Deportivo won the league.

There is a feeling that ‘someone else’ could win the league this season too if Madrid continue to stumble and Barcelona buckle under the weight of boardroom upheaval.

After losing 3-2 to Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday, Madrid media speculated over who would have been jeered the most had the defeat taken place in a full Santiago Bernabeu.

‘Heading for Europa League’ read one sarcastic headline. In this group that is maybe not beyond the realms of possibility for Real Madrid.

One columnist accused Zidane of picking the team by just throwing oranges in the air and seeing where they land. He is currently not helped by injuries to Eden Hazard and Martin Odegaard who were meant to make a difference at the end of a summer marked by the absence of signings for the first time in 20 years, but there has been a ‘lucky dip’ element to his XIs with wild switches from two wingers in a 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 with no wingers.

On Wednesday night he benched Vinicius and Benzema even though Madrid were missing their captain at the other end of the pitch.

Much was made of the chaos that always ensues when Sergio Ramos is missing and it’s true that Madrid have lost to Manchester City and Ajax, Juventus and PSG without him but he was there in the first half at the weekend and it was his mistake which led to Cadiz’s goal, so this is not just about one important player missing.


Barcelona’s problems on the pitch seem far smaller. What to do with Griezmann is currently Koeman’s biggest headache. How Madrid would love to have the Frenchman in their team. Barcelona’s cast of a thousand forwards (Messi, Ansu Fati, Dembele, Pedri, Francisco Trincao) might lack a centre-forward but it beats Madrid’s depleted troupe hands down right now.

That’s the most striking thing about this Madrid team – there is nothing to excite and nothing to rely on. At this juncture the £163m (180m euros) on Hazard and Luka Jovic looks to have been money badly spent.

The young Brazilians Vinicius and Rodrigo Goes are not progressing sufficiently under Zinedine Zidane and with Marco Asensio unable to make a consistent impact on games, it’s a Madrid team that no longer frightens opposition defences.

While things are currently not as bad on the pitch for Barcelona, off it the club continues to stumble from one drama to the next. There is a projected £271m (300m euros) shortfall in revenue this season that can only be tackled by big cuts in the wage bill.

The tactic of persuading players to, in effect, receive the same amount of money but over a longer period has worked with Frenkie de Jong, Gerard Pique, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Clement Lenglet who have all extended contracts, but not, so far, with others.

Meanwhile, a petition to force a referendum on whether the board should be able to see out their term of office until March 2021, one that needed 16,500 names, gathered over 20,000.

Only the problems of how to stage the referendum during a pandemic can now delay the president being dumped before December with elections in January.


Madrid are not showing the same overt signs of chaos but they are also bracing themselves for a huge drop in revenue.

The big two in Spain make more money from football tourism and full stadiums than, arguably, any club in Europe and nothing like a Clasico behind closed doors will remind them of what they are currently missing out on.

Never before has the fixture taken place without fans – every groan from the technical area will be heard. Koeman knows only about playing against Madrid. He was victorious six times with three draws and five defeats during his career.

Zinedine Zidane has never lost at the Nou Camp as a coach with two wins and three draws to date. His position will be under greater scrutiny than ever if he slips us this time.

A gentle campaign around Real Madrid Castilla coach Raul being his replacement-in-waiting has already started to pick up speed. It will find another gear on Saturday if Real Madrid lose the weirdest of Clasicos.


Arguments and Rift in Camp Nou dressing room unfolds


Barcelona’s dressing room has been left split by the initiative aimed at reducing player salaries. President Josep Maria Bartomeu has gone down this route in an attempt to mitigate the financial outgoings at the club given the reduction in income caused by the coronavirus pandemic, yet the process has not run smoothly.

Some players have been accused of putting their individual interests before the collective. This was made evident by the news that on Tuesday – right after the club’s Champions League win over Ferencvaros – that Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet, Frenkie de Jong and Marc-Andre ter Stegen had all renewed their contracts on an individual basis.Some members of the playing squad are frustrated not only with those who have looked after themselves but also at a board who have allowed this to happen.

A letter was signed by most of the squad to reject the plans for pay cuts, but not all players signed it. Curiously, Pique was one of those to sign the letter, before agreeing a contract extension to 2024. Bartomeu’s plan involved reducing player salaries this season, but then stating in their contracts that the board will make up the difference in years to come. Bartomeu won’t have to worry about this, since he’ll be out of his role by next summer anyway, with presidential elections forthcoming – or possibly sooner if he is voted out by the club’s members.

Barcelona’s salary negotiations
All of this comes just before negotiations were set to begin on Wednesday about a collective salary reduction. A player should be there at the table for these discussions, but they’d already said that they won’t attend.

However, there is a split in the group and it seems Bartomeu has adopted the ‘divide and conquer’ tactic. While the club rolled over their Hungarian opposition on Tuesday night, it remains to be seen what impact this dressing room split will have on the club’s fortunes on the pitch in the longer term.


New Barca Born and A new Coutinho Unleashed


Barcelona looked born again under Ronald Koeman on Thursday night and no one more so than Philippe Coutinho, who suddenly looks the player the club thought they had signed from Liverpool for £145million in January 2018.

In Barcelona’s new 4-2-3-1 system Coutinho is playing in the middle of the line of three behind the striker when the team attacks, and when they don’t have the ball he is charged with working to support the central midfield pair.

He is thriving with the attacking freedom and delivering on his defensive responsibilities too. It’s as if that first full season that ended in disappointment and a loan move to Bayern Munich never happened.


Bigger tests will come. Barcelona’s next three games against Sevilla, Getafe and Real Madrid are likely to ask far more questions of them than first two opponents Villarreal and Celta Vigo have done, but Coutinho was man-of-the-match in the driving Galician rain and there are even signs he could full the void left in Lionel Messi’s life by the departure of Luis Suarez.

Messi needs a new best friend and while 17-year-old Ansu Fati is the player Barcelona’s No 10 had taken under his wing, Coutinho could become the new side-kick.

When Coutinho arrived at Barcelona, Suarez helped him settle into the same Costa Brava beach town with his wife Aine where Messi and Suarez had set-up home.

Suarez may have left for the capital but Coutinho and Messi remain neighbours and the close group that includes Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique has welcomed the Brazilian back from his loan spell in Bavaria.

On the pitch Coutinho has certainly stayed close to Messi. Koeman’s grand plan is that Barcelona’s front four rotate positions. When Messi drops off that allows Coutinho to run beyond him, just as when Messi drifts wide he can change positions with Fati or Antoine Griezmann.

Coutinho set-up Fati for Barcelona’s first goal on Thursday night and he hit the post in the second half with a shot that could have led to Barcelona’s third goal had the tightest of offside decisions not denied Messi.


At the weekend it was his driving run, albeit completely unhindered by Villarreal’s generous midfield, that led to Fati’s second goal.

He will be back at the Nou Camp on Sunday for the visit of Sevilla. It was against Sevilla that Coutinho gave his greatest Barcelona performance to date. He was outstanding in the 2018 Copa del Rey final that Barca won 5-0. He set up the first goal for Suarez, and scored the fifth from the penalty spot.

That was Andres Iniesta’s last game for Barcelona and it felt like the passing of the baton with Coutinho now ready to replace the legend. In 13 seasons Iniesta had only scored 57 goals for Barcelona. In his first campaign Coutinho had managed 12 – so even if he fell short in other areas the potential was there for him to outdo the player he was replacing.

The following season with the No 7 on his back Coutinho lost his way but now with the old No 14 he wore in his first half-season he looks like he might really be able to offer Barcelona world-class midfield solutions.

Koeman certainly thinks so and if Thursday night’s performance was an indication of things to come Coutinho could be about to justify some of that massive fee and finally be a success at Barcelona.


‘Segino Dest would be most important signing for Barca this summer’ – Koeman


Ronald Koeman believes that Sergino Dest has the potential to offer a lot to Barcelona in the future.

The 19-year-old right-back is set to join from Ajax to fill the void of Nelson Semedo, who recently completed a move to Wolverhampton Wanderers.

“He is going to be a very useful player for Barcelona,” Koeman said on Wednesday’s press conference ahead of Thursday’s game against Celta Vigo.

“Despite his age, Dest has already played a lot of games in professional football, including some in the Champions League.

“He is going to have to compete with the other full-backs.

“Having young players is important for the future of this club.”


Lonely Messi; ‘Tragic Story of Barcelona’s M.S.N departure


Luis Suarez’s departure is the latest blow for Lionel Messi at Barcelona.

The two South Americans are close friends and have shared an equally profitable relationship on the football pitch during their time at Camp Nou.

Once Suarez’s move to Atletico Madrid was confirmed, Messi didn’t hide his disappointment and bewilderment at Barcelona.

The Uruguayan is the latest teammate and friend of Messi’s to leave the Catalan club as he becomes more and more isolated.

The first in this long list is Cesc Fabregas, who came through the youth ranks at Barcelona with Messi.

The Spanish midfielder swapped Blaugrana for Chelsea in 2014, moving to Jose Mourinho’s outfit and returning to the Premier League.


The next big name to go was Neymar, who preferred Paris Saint-Germain’s project to Barcelona’s – a decision he would later regret.

There was a lot of talk over a possible return to the Camp Nou for the Brazilian last summer, but Barcelona never managed to strike a deal.

Alongside Suarez, Arturo Vidal is another of Messi’s close allies to have left the Camp Nou this summer, with the midfielder opting to join Inter.

In the dugout, Messi wasn’t happy with the decision to sack Ernesto Valverde, with whom he had an excellent relationship.

The captain didn’t get on with Valverde’s successor, Quique Setien, and now his relationship with Ronald Koeman is cold and distant.

As for the boardroom, Messi was never shied away from criticising Josep Maria Bartomeu and his board at Barcelona.

The Argentina international didn’t mince his words when speaking about the current president after his transfer request was blocked.

Instead, Messi misses the relationship he shared with Joan Laporta, a president who always looked out for and protected him.


Tears as Luis Suarez departs from Barca and Commends Messi


Luis Suarez highlighted his close friendship with Lionel Messi as he bid a teary farewell to Barcelona ahead of his move to Atletico Madrid.


Messi had failed to dovetail with other top strikers such as Samuel Eto’o, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Villa but took no time at all to gel with Suarez, who became his best friend at the club as well as a prolific strike partner.

“When I got to Barcelona everyone said be careful with Leo, that he was the main striker at the club,” an emotional Suarez said at a news conference attended by Messi, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba.

“But in our time together we always tried to perform as well as we could and I can leave here feeling very proud.”

Messi also looked set to be leaving Barcelona before walking back on his threat to end his contract unilaterally, and Suarez lashed out at the stories that appeared in the media about the two players’ influence on the club.

“It has been a crazy month, many things have been said and leaked that were invented, many things that made me angry. But everyone knows how good a relationship I have with Leo,” the Uruguayan added.


Amid all the upheaval at Barca this summer surrounding Messi’s future, it emerged that Suarez did not feature in the plans of head coach Ronald Koeman, who replaced Quique Setien in August.

Suarez had appeared set to join Italian champions Juventus, but a move to Turin collapsed after complications over the Uruguayan’s passport application.

Barcelona signed Suarez from Liverpool in July 2014 for £74m, shortly after he had been banned for four months by FIFA for biting Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during the World Cup in Brazil.

He soon formed a deadly partnership with Messi and Neymar, winning a treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League in his first season.

Suarez leaves after lifting 13 trophies and hitting 198 goals to become the club’s third all-time top scorer.


“I’m grateful to the club for trusting in me in 2014 after I made an error, it wasn’t easy to accept that and they treated me marvellously since I arrived,” said Suarez.

“I came here to fulfil a dream, to play for the best club in the world and I should be very proud of everything I did.

“I suffered a lot but I’ll remember the good times, the goals I scored alongside the best player of all time.”

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu added: “He is a club legend, the third top scorer in our history, the best in his position.

“I want to highlight his character, his fighting spirit and his will to win which has helped us achieve so much in the last six years.”


‘I couldn’t, I just couldn’t watch the best player in the world leave’ – Bartomeu on Messi


Having refused to grant Lionel Messi’s wish to leave Barcelona last month, president Josep Maria Bartomeu is keen to move on.

Josep Maria Bartomeu insisted he had no interest in continuing a public spat with Lionel Messi despite the Barcelona captain’s criticism of his presidency.

Messi stunned the world last month when he informed Barça of his intention to depart the LaLiga giants, with the 33-year-old intending to trigger a clause in his contract to walk away on a free at the end of last season.

However, the validity of such a stipulation was murky due to the campaign being extended by the coronavirus pandemic, and Messi ultimately opted to remain in Catalonia rather than challenge Barcelona in a legal battle.

That did not prevent him from taking aim at Bartomeu in an interview with Goal, though, as he accused the president of reneging on his wish to leave and presiding over a club that had “no project or anything for a long time”.

“As president, I will not enter into any conflict with Messi,” Bartomeu told TV3. Messi is our captain, our leader. The issue is parked. What has been said has been said.


“I couldn’t allow to let the best player in the world go. The team needs him, he guarantees success. Things have to be discussed at home. You have to support the team and the players.

“We have to congratulate ourselves that Messi is still with us. He is excited about [coach Ronald] Koeman’s project. The important thing is he plays for Barca, at his home. We want him to retire at the club.”

Messi’s contract expires at the end of the 2020-21 season anyway, though by that point Barcelona will have a different president as there are elections to replace Bartomeu next March.

However, Bartomeu, unpopular with some Barcelona fans due to his role in the Messi saga, may be forced out before then if he faces a vote of no confidence on the back of a motion to remove him, which has so far gathered more than 20,000 votes.

“Right now, no-one is considering resigning,” Bartomeu added. The club is not going to stop. I think everyone was surprised by the number of signatures but we respect democracy and the club’s laws.”


Martin Braitwaite gets injury ahead of Villarreal’s clash


Martin Braithwaite has picked up an injury in his left quadriceps rectus anterior ahead of Barcelona’s LaLiga Santander opener against Villarreal on September 27.

The Danish striker didn’t participate in the Blaugrana’s 1-0 victory over Elche in the Joan Gamper Trophy on Saturday.

“First team player Martin Braithwaite has a left quadriceps anterior rectus injury and the evolution of the problem will condition his availability,” read the club’s oficial statement.

“The tests carried out this Sunday have shown up the injury, which occurred in post-match training on Saturday.”


Breaking: Barcelona wants Salah


The Blaugrana have made the Egyptian forward their top transfer target, according to the Express.

Salah and his Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mané have often been linked with moves to Barça’s rivals Real Madrid.

Since Ronald Koeman arrived to take charge at Camp Nou, Barça have been said to be interested to numerous forwards, including Lyon star Memphis Depay.


Final Score: Barcelona 3-1 Gimnastic


Game is over and the final score is Barcelona 3-1 Gimnàstic de Tarragona. Here is the match report.

2020 Club Friendlies
Dembele (6′)
Griezmann (17′ PEN)
Coutinho (51′ PEN)
Javier Bonilla (31′)


Barcelona XI: Messi, Pique, Alba, Busquets, Neto, Griezmann, Roberto, Lenglet, Alena, Dembele, Pedri

Subs: Coutinho, Braithwaite, Semedo, Firpo, Pena, De Jong, Trincão, R. Araújo, Jorge Cuenca, Juan Miranda, Arnau Tenas, Riqui Puig, Ilaix Moriba, K. De La Fuente

Gimnàstic de Tarragona XI: Jesús Rueda, Joan Oriol, Marc Trilles, Wilfred, Fausto Tienza, Gerard Oliva, Javier Bonilla, Carlos Albarrán, Javi Ribelles, T. Amang , Brugui

Subs: Fran Miranda, Pedro Martín, Fran Carbià, Gonzi, L. Prudhomme, Pol Ballesteros, Pol Prats, Firas Al-Ghamdi, Óscar Sanz, Joel Lasso, Bernat Guiu


Shocking: Crisis Barca as they shall offload 12 players


Luis Suarez, Martin Braithwaite and Samuel Umtiti could be part of a 12-man firesale at Barcelona, according to reports in Spain.

The Catalan giants are looking to add at least three names to their squad this summer – namely a left-footed centre-back, a physical midfielder and a forward – after resolving the transfer saga involving Lionel Messi last month.

But the club acknowledge they must address their overly-inflated wage bill and Mundo Deportivo claim 12 players are yet to clarify their future with the club.

Forward Suarez appeared set for a move to Juventus, with just a medical and bonuses to sort out, but the report claims Atletico Madrid have arrived on the scene and the Uruguayan’s openness to staying in Spain has changed the scenario.


If and when the 33-year-old departs, Barcelona will be left with controversial January signing Martin Braithwaite as their only natural central striker.

But the Spanish outlet claims new boss Ronald Koeman is not totally convinced by the Dane and would like time to cast his eye over him, despite admiring his professionalism.

The 29-year-old’s agent has reportedly offered his client around in the transfer market but has not received any interest for the Denmark international.

Arturo Vidal could also be among the first to leave the club alongside Suarez, but the report admits the current financial slump is holding up his move to Inter Milan.

Centre-back Samuel Umtiti is also a player who Barcelona would like to sell, and although the France international initially refused to leave the Camp Nou he has been told by Koeman that his future lies elsewhere, with former club Lyon best placed to sign him.


Fellow Frenchman Jean-Clair Todibo’s future also lies away from the club, who are demanding a £23million (€25m) fee for him amid Premier League interest from Everton and Leicester City.

Despite making him unavailable for transfer earlier in the summer, Nelson Semedo could also depart the Camp Nou if an offer that is impossible to reject arrives, with the club already seeking to strengthen in wide areas.

Rafinha Alcantara spent some of last season on loan at Celta Vigo, but with the Spanish side unable to make the move permanent due to his £15million (€16m) release clause, he has returned to the Camp Nou.

Koeman is reportedly happy with his performances, but Barcelona’s desperation to sell this summer may yet see him depart if a suitable offer arrives.

The list of potential departures is completed by left-backs Junior Firpo and Miranda, as well as youngsters Moussa Wague, Barcelona B central midfielder Monchu and defensive midfielder Oriol Busquets, with Watford said to be considering a loan with an option to buy for the latter.


Barca starts Koeman era with ‘VICTORY”


Barcelona won 3-1 in their first pre-season match of the summer, defeating Nastic de Tarragona at the Estadi Johan Cruyff.

This was the first look at how Ronald Koeman would set his side up and he played two completely different teams, one line-up for the first half and another for the second.

Lionel Messi started in the match, fitting in to a 4-2-3-1 system that saw Sergio Busquets and Carles Alena team up in the defensive midfield positions.


Ousmane Dembele was in the starting line-up too, returning after his long-term hamstring injury, and he scored just five minutes in as he was able to prod the ball through the goalkeeper’s legs.

Antoine Griezmann wasn’t as involved, but he did make it 2-0 by converting a penalty in the 17th minute.

After Javi Bonilla pulled one back for Nastic on the half hour mark, Barcelona restored their two-goal advantage when the alternate line-up took to the field in the second half.

Six minutes after the restart, there was another penalty and this time Philippe Coutinho scored.

Coutinho was good in that second half, while Trincao stood out for positive reasons too and Martin Braithwaite stood out for missing three chances.



See the only two Barcelona youngstars Koeman adores


Ronald Koeman was full of praise for Barcelona new boys Pedri and Trincao after they both played their first minutes for the club on Saturday.

The pair appeared in a 3-1 friendly win over Nastic de Tarragona, which brought some joy to the Dutchman.

“He’s a great talent,” Koeman said when asked about Pedri’s contribution.

“He’s 17 and such an important signing for our future.

“He has trained with us and has the quality to play, so we’ll see how much he can take part.

“I liked Trincao positionally, sometimes coming inside and sometimes going outside.

“He has quality and has to adapt to the speed and rhythm.


“He’s a great signing.”

As is the norm early in pre-season, the Catalans have prioritised physical work so far.

Yet Koeman knows that they need to brush up on their tactics.

“We’ve done a lot of physical work in training,” he explained.

“We have to do more tactical work now.”

Lionel Messi got 45 minutes under his belt for the first time since his transfer saga.

“He’s shown the same spirit as in the first day,” the boss added.

“He’s training well and did the same on our day off.

“He knows that he has to improve physically, like everyone, but his quality speaks for itself.”


‘It a new Born Barcelona now and I’m happy – Ronald Koeman


The new Dutch head coach admitted the 4-2-3-1 formation played on Saturday night is slightly more defensive, but insists “this team can do it”. “We’re happy,” Koeman said after the 3-1 win over Nàstic.

New Barcelona boss, Ronald Koeman, spoke on Barça TV after his first game in charge of the Catalan club. Barça defeated Nàstic 3-1 in a friendly held before they open their La Liga campaign.

“The most important thing is that fortunately there have been no injuries. Everyone has played 45 minutes. There were moments of good intensity. There are always things to improve on but we’re happy. We have been here for two weeks and we have two more to go.”

New system
Regarding the system and positioning, with the double pivot, Koeman said: “It may be different and somewhat more defensive than what has been seen in recent years, but the objective is to move the ball, hold on to it and find the spaces to play between the lines, and behind rival midfielders. I think this team can do it because we have midfielders to play like that.”

Short pre-season
Koeman assured that he was interested in seeing players even though they had only been training for a few days: “It is important that they already play because it is not a normal pre-season. We only have four weeks, not six. It is complicated. What we want to do now is physical work and in the next two weeks work on the tactical side more.”


Bye Juve: Pjanic arrives at Camp Nou


The Bosnian midfielder will have to pass LaLiga’s mandatory PCR test in order to start training at the club’s training complex.

As the protocol dictates, Pjanic will have to train alone until he passes the second PCR test.

Lionel Messi and Philippe Coutinho also had to do this before they could join up with their team-mates.

Unfortunately for Pjanic, though, having to adhere to the protocol means that it’s unlikely that he plays against Girona in Barcelona’s pre-season opener.

The Catalan club plan to present Pjanic at the start of next week.


Miralem Pjanic lands in Barcelona


Miralem Pjanic arrived in Barcelona on Thursday night after taking a private flight from Turin, where he had been quarantining for the last two weeks after testing positive for COVID-19.

The Bosnian midfielder will have to pass LaLiga’s mandatory PCR test in order to start training at the club’s training complex.

As the protocol dictates, Pjanic will have to train alone until he passes the second PCR test.


Lionel Messi and Philippe Coutinho also had to do this before they could join up with their team-mates.

Unfortunately for Pjanic, though, having to adhere to the protocol means that it’s unlikely that he plays against Girona in Barcelona’s pre-season opener.

The Catalan club plan to present Pjanic at the start of next week.


Thiago dines in Barcelona as he agrees personal terms with Liverpool


Thiago Alcantara has reportedly agreed personal terms with Liverpool and the Bayern Munich midfielder is currently spending time on holiday in Barcelona.

The Spain international’s wife posted a photo of a relaxed looking Thiago with her and their children captioned: ‘The four of us,’ after he was given an extended break by the Bundesliga giants following the Nations League fixtures.

The Spaniard is reportedly desperate to seal a move to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool and BILD maintain that terms have been agreed between the two parties.

The report however states that the club agreeing a transfer fee remains a stumbling block, with last season’s treble winners reticent to let him depart for anything less than £27.5million (€30m).


Thiago’s Bayern Munich colleagues were back in training on Tuesday, including both Niklas Sule and new signing Leroy Sane who had featured for Germany in the past week.

But Spain international Thiago will not be joining them this week after being pictured having a relaxing time on a beach in Barcelona.

Bayern boss Hansi Flick offered very little update on the former Barcelona playmaker’s future, adding that he remains in his plans as long as he is part of his squad.

As stated by Sportsmail, Thiago’s future could hinge on the future of Georginio Wijnaldum, who is set for talks with Klopp upon his return.

Should Barcelona give Liverpool the chance to cash in on Wijnaldum, it would pave the way for Liverpool to move for Thiago.


Ansu Fati’s client start discussions with Barca over contract


Jorge Mendes was in Catalonia on Wednesday to meet with Barcelona directors.

There, he discussed his new client Ansu Fati’s contract, as well as the latest on the future of Nelson Semedo, another player represented by Mendes’ Gestifute agency.

Ansu Fati is a rising star of world football and Barcelona are keen to ensure he’ll spend his prime years at the Camp Nou.

The 17-year-old’s current contract runs until 2022 and has a release clause of 170 million euros, but Barcelona can increase that clause to 400m euros when they register him with their first team and that is expected to happen in the coming days.

Barcelona also have an option to extend the player’s contract to 2024, but this two-year add-on to his current deal currently poses some legal problems because minors cannot sign contracts that are longer than three years.

Ansu Fati is still only 17 and doesn’t turn 18 until October 31, in around seven weeks’ time.

In any case, there could be talks for a brand new contract that would allow the club the peace of mind of having Ansu Fati committed well beyond 2022 and one that would be even better for the player than the current agreement.

This is where Jorge Mendes comes in, as the forward signed with the powerful agent just a few weeks ago after having previously been managed by Lionel Messi’s brother Rodrigo Messi.

Given the potential Ansu Fati has demonstrated even since the latest update to his deal in December, there’s an understanding that new terms will have to be thrashed out.

Just In: Messi trains at Barcelona training day off


Lionel Messi turned up at Barcelona’s training complex on Thursday for a workout, even as the rest of the squad enjoyed a day of holiday.

The Argentine has been well cocooned since reporting back for training on Monday as he looks to get back to fitness, having to train individually at first due to LaLiga’s coronavirus protocols and then not completing the double sessions held later in the week.

Keen to make up for lost time, Messi has often been the first player to arrive at the training ground and this Thursday he was there alone.

Friday will see the Catalan side train again as a group as they look ahead to Saturday’s friendly with Gimnastic de Tarragona, a game in which Messi could take part.


Griezmann insists his future is only at Barcelona


Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann continues to be linked with a move away but has stressed his desire to stay at the club.

Antoine Griezmann has questioned why he continues to be linked with a move away from Barcelona as he reiterated his desire to remain at the club.

The France international endured an underwhelming debut campaign with Barça after arriving from Atlético Madrid in a €120million transfer last year.

Struggled out of position
He registered 15 goals in all competitions but was often played out of position and struggled to earn a regular place in the side in the closing stages of the season.

Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and former club Atlético have all been tipped to move for Griezmann, but the forward has no desire to leave Barcelona.


“Is my future is at Barça? Yes. I don’t know why people invent destinations to see if one day they will be right,” he told French outlet M6.

“I am very well there. I know I have the confidence of the club and the coach so I am well. It has been a very complicated season for all of us but now we start again.”

Contract runs until 2023-24 season
Griezmann, under contract with Barça until the end of the 2023-24 campaign, scored for France on Tuesday to draw level with Zinedine Zidane as the nation’s fifth all-time top scorer.

The 29-year-old has 31 goals for the world champions, putting him behind only David Trezeguet, Olivier Giroud, Michel Platini and Thierry Henry, who struck 51 times for Les Blues.