Ronald Koeman: "I am disappointed with Ilaix"
The coach lecturers the young player and reminds him that "at eighteen the most important thing is not money"
Ronald Koeman has not bitten his tongue in the press conference prior to the clash against Athletic Bilbao (10pm, Movistar LaLiga) on Saturday. The Dutch coach has wanted to give a warning to Ilaix Moriba, who still has his future to decide on, while announcing that he will give Pedri a two-week holiday to recover his strength after being the player who played the most games last season, including the European Championship and the Olympic Games in Tokyo. "We have been thinking for a while that it is the best for Pedri and we have decided that tomorrow he will play. But then he will have two weeks off. That way we won't go into November or December with physical problems. Pedri needs a holiday. It's impossible to endure all the minutes he has played during the season, the two tournaments in the summer. He has to rest at least two weeks", admitted the coach.
If Pedri is the head, Ilaix is the tail. "I spoke to Ilaix a few weeks ago. I did it as a person rather than as the Barcelona coach. For me his situation is horrible. He is an 18-year old young player who has had the opportunity to play with Barça's first team. He is the future of the club, but he does not play and he is not with us. I know from the club what Barça wants to offer to this player. My advice is that money is not the most important thing, but to play matches, but the player and his people think differently. I'm disappointed at that. I believe more in football than in contracts. At eighteen, money cannot be so important", reflected Ronald Koeman on Ilaix Moriba's situation.
Visibly disgruntled, the Dutchman also wanted to assert the role of young people within the team: "I always count on young people. They're always training with us and they have to play matches. If not with the first team, then with the second team. They need competitive games and, despite training with the first team, they have to play as much as possible. I see a lot of future in Barça's young players. If the opportunity arises, we will give them minutes. They are the future of the club and we are very happy to have young players".
In addition, Koeman has highlighted the important role of two players who still raise doubts about their continuity: Martin Braithwaite and Philippe Coutinho. "Martin is a player who is doing well for us. He showed the other day that he is important for the team. I've always said I love working with him. He is very disciplined in accepting the non-starting role. For me, Braithwaite has to stay", said the coach. He has also made it clear that he is counting on Coutinho for this season. "He's out because I think he needs another week to train with the group before being called up. I do count on him because he's a great player. He can be important for Barça. He started playing last year, then he had an injury. I really count on Coutinho for this season".
Once the call-up was published, the Dutch coach had once again left the same names out: Samuel Umititi and Miralem Pjanic. Koeman needs neither of the two, and has been clear about it in the press conference: "We know that we have players to spare. It's very difficult for Umtiti and Pjanic to have minutes. The final decision is up to the player, but both are in a complicated situation within the club".