This is how Pjanic convinced Xavi

BarcelonaMiralem Pjanic never understood why Ronald Koeman relegated him to ostracism. The Blaugrana technical secretariat didn’t quite understand why the Dutch coach left the Bosnian midfielder in oblivion in his first season on the bench. It was accepted that he did not quite convince the then coach of Barça, but not that he did not even serve as a useful footballer: Pjanic had made a name for himself above all in Italy, first at Roma and then at Juventus, a team with which had been crowned champions of Serie A four times. One of the technical explanations given from the Ciutat Esportiva de Sant Joan Despí is that Koeman liked more vertical midfielders, who look forward, while the Bosnian was more of a break footballer.

However, after a season in which he descended into hell relegated by the Dutch coach, Pjanic agreed to forgo part of his generous salary to be able to go out on loan to Turkish Besiktas, an unexotic destination but where he would find the prominence he knew at Barça I wouldn’t have. But this season, with Xavi Hernández on the bench, the Bosnian (with a contract as Blaugrana until 2024) has an extra life in Barcelona. In just over a week of pre-season, adding just a handful of training sessions, the ex-Juventus was able to seduce the coach from Egara.

According to the sources consulted by ARA, what has most convinced Xavi and his coaching staff is “Pjanic’s ability to understand the positional game”. In other words, his ability to position himself and “help the circulation of the ball” in contexts in which Barça will be the dominator, a dogma of the game model that Xavi embodied so well as a player and that he now works with to transfer to his team from the bench. For his part, the footballer wants to demonstrate on the pitch the good feelings he has transmitted during the pre-season.

With the suspension of Sergio Busquets, who was sent off on the first day after seeing two yellow cards in the draw against Rayo Vallecano, the 32-year-old Bosnian is postulating as the main candidate to replace the midfielder from Badia del Vallès Although he can also play inside, the Ciutat Esportiva assure ARA that the position in which they hope to get the most out of Pjanic this season is that of pivot. Despite everything, Xavi did not want to give any hints at the press conference prior to the duel against Real Sociedad this Sunday (10 p.m., Movistar LaLiga).

“I will not reveal my eleven, but we have the tools to replace Busi: there is Frenkie, Kessié, Pjanic…”, affirmed the Barça coach. Although, in the same way that he sees Pjanic as more of a pivot than an interior, the Argentine prefers De Jong as an interior: “I see him facing the game. When I was with my back to the game, he was not comfortable. I had to adapt and that’s what we’re trying to do with Frenkie. He’s a player I’ve always liked. He has the potential to break lines, he has arrival…”.

All in all, Barça have a trial by fire against Real Sociedad in Anoeta. A team that, for its part, has a present and future midfielder: Martín Zubimendi. The young 23-year-old midfielder has played both in the double pivot and in midfield with the Basque team and is a player that the Blaugrana sports management follows as one of the possible candidates to replace Busquets. Despite his youth, Zubimendi completed 100 games in the Real Sociedad shirt last day and is one of the jewels of state football. His release clause is 60 million euros and he has a contract until 2025. His emergence in the first team means that Real, despite renewing him two years ago, wants to extend his contract again.

Pending inscription of Kounde

Aside from Busquets’ replacement, Xavi is waiting to see if Barça will be able to register Jules Kounde in time. For this reason, until this Sunday, the Barcelona coach will not give the list of players. With salary adjustments stuck, the club is working against the clock with the departures of Memphis Depay to Juventus and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to Chelsea to be able to register the French centre-back, a signing specifically requested by the Egaren coach.


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