Koeman: "The squad is very strong without Messi"
The 'blaugrana' technician asks to turn the page to compete and to demonstrate the quality of the squad
BarcelonaThe first league season without Messi wearing the blaugrana shirt begins. After the journey of the last few weeks and the departure of the Argentine to PSG, it is time to start a new era. "There has been a lot of talk about Messi and it's normal. He is the best player in the world, he has shown for many years in this club his effectiveness, the quality to win titles... We won't have him with us anymore, but we have other players and a very strong squad", Ronald Koeman acknowledged in the press conference prior to Sunday's match against Real Sociedad (8pm, Movistar LaLiga).
The blaugrana coach has confessed that the Messi's farewell is "painful for all FC Barcelona fans. We miss him, because he is a very important player for Barça, but we do not have to live in the past". Koeman asks the fans and the dressing room to turn the page and recognises that he has "a very strong squad to be able to achieve important things. From Sunday onwards there are no excuses and the team is ready. We have to play, show and have the attitude to go forward. I'm convinced that the fans will enjoy this team", explained the coach.
Moments before the press conference, the club announced that Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia and Rey Manaj have been signed up for the La Liga match against Real Sociedad, thanks to a new economic agreement with Gerard Piqué. "We know perfectly well the economic situation the club is in, which needs help in every way. We must highlight the attitude of Gerard Piqué, Sergi Roberto, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba. Everyone who has been here for many years wants to help the club to improve its financial situation. They demonstrate that they are home-grown players", Koeman said, defending his captains. The blaugrana entity, however, is still in negotiations with Busquets and Alba to adjust their salaries.
The blaugrana squad, however, is not yet closed. Koeman has assured in a press conference that certain positions need to be strengthened, especially the front. "Seeing the team's positions, today, we lack people up top: Ansu, Dembélé, Agüero, Coutinho... They are four players with a lot of quality. We're short of what we have up front and that's why we've talked about signing a striker. It's good for us because we have different strikers, but we need more competition. It all depends, of course, on whether we can sign", said the coach, who is well aware of the club's financial situation.
Koeman has also had to face and assess the possible disenchantment of the fans with the club. Despite the fact that just over 15,000 members have requested tickets for the match against Real Sociedad, this is not a concern for the Dutch coach. "I think the limitation of tickets is because of the rules and distances, there is a maximum of 22,000 people. I don't think it's because they are not motivated with the club. We are on holiday, in August there are a lot of people away. Those who come will help us a lot to win the match", he explained.