BarcelonaRonald Koeman’s Barça meet again this Monday with Granada, the executioner last season at the Camp Nou on the afternoon when Barça promised them happiness to be leaders in the league. That defeat started a bad streak that left Atlético de Madrid and Real Madrid alone in the fight for the championship. Barça finished third and this year, without Leo Messi, they are still looking for a reaction with the same coach, who remains in office more because the board has found no substitute for him than for a real conviction in the offices.
In the first test after the bloody defeat in the Champions League against Bayern Munich, Koeman will have to deal with the sensitive casualties of Pedri and Jordi Alba, two players from his first unit. In the absence of great alternatives with a first team record, all indications are that the absence of the canary will be covered by Pablo Páez Gavi, a minor who does merit to fill the gap of Ilaix Moriba as the first refreshment in the middle of the field. A little older (he is already 18) is Alejandro Balde, the only natural option that the coaches have for when the starting left winger is missing, as will be the case in the coming weeks. Both are the fruits of La Masia and appear in the current context of Barça as a hot key to cling to. His contribution against Bayern on Tuesday was how little the bullshit could applaud. Yusuf Demir, a bet by Ramon Planes from Austrian football, has also entered Barça on a good footing. The extreme skill is also postulated to be a starter against Granada. It is one of the few cash with ease to overflow in the one against one.
Gavi, Balde and Demir follow in the footsteps of Araujo, Pedri and Mingueza, promises that last year took advantage of the confidence Koeman gave them when, amid injuries and penalties, they had to go out and play. However, in this wave of commitment to young people, so applauded by the Dutch coach’s supporters, there is still no room for two La Masia icons in their twenties. Neither Riqui Puig nor Álex Collado are included in the coach’s plans. One is aimed at all competitions and has not yet played a single minute, while the other is directly limited to training in Sant Joan Despí because the club did not register him in time, as he thought he would leave on loan at Sheffield to play the minutes Koeman denied him.
Riqui’s specific case was the subject of the coach’s appearance yesterday. “What to do [Puig] to be able to have a chance? ”they asked.“ Improve, ”he replied, bluntly, before slightly expanding his argument.“ He needs to improve in many aspects of the game. The other day [contra el Bayern] it warmed up and it was a chance to get into the match, but I had to change Alba for the injury. He has to work like any young man, “said Koeman, who puts Matadepera behind players four and five years younger than him after a second summer without getting him to resign. The Dutchman has to withstand the pressure of President Laporta, who is asking him to rely more on the midfielder, and has even to endure screams at the start of the training sessions of fans dissatisfied with his treatment of the current bib number 6.
Alien to this noise, Puig exudes patience until the coach gives him official minutes. Still, he doesn’t quite fish out what improvements Koeman is referring to. This is what his environment at ARA says.
Barça are looking for a transfer for Collado
Riqui sees younger midfielders than him like Pedri, Gavi, Nico or Ilaix go ahead of him in the choice of coach. But at the very least, he enters the coach’s calls to aspire to play from time to time. Collado himself cannot say that he has run out of numbers and does not have the right card to play. The Sabadell native can only train after seeing how two transfer operations were frustrated during the summer, once he accepted that Koeman did not count on him. Neither Bruges nor Sheffield got him for this season, so the sports management assumes he will have to pay his salary even though he cannot compete. However, Barça’s offices are still working on scenarios so that it can be leased before the European market reopens after Christmas. Sources at the organization remind ARA that there are still leagues in which new players can sign up, such as Argentina, Mexico, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Another thing is that Collado accepts exotic solutions. That’s why the midfielder will most likely stay at home until he can find a team on his continent. Or, who knows, until he can be registered and, if there are changes on the bench, he can play for Barça in the Primera Division.