The Dutch head coach has admitted to having apprehensions about relying on youth to get through a testing senior injury crisis
Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman has explained his reluctance to field too many young players while giving a positive update on Ansu Fati’s recovery from long-term injury.
Koeman is currently dealing with something of an injury crisis at Camp Nou, with the likes of Ansu, Sergino Dest, Sergio Aguero, Martin Braithwaite and Ousmane Dembele all currently sidelined.
Pedri and Jordi Alba added to the Dutchman’s injury woes after picking up respective knocks in Barca’s 3-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday, but he has no plans to dip into the academy for extra reinforcements.
What’s been said?
Speaking ahead of his side’s latest La Liga outing against Granada on Monday, Koeman told a press conference: “I am not even afraid to start a young man, but putting six in right away is not good either … It is difficult to know when they are going to have more games.”
Goal has reported that the Blaugrana manager has been instructed to give La Masia graduate Riqui Puig a more prominent role in his plans, but he insists that he will only hand the 22-year-old midfielder extra minutes based on merit.
“He has to work to win minutes and improve his game like all young people,” Koeman added.
Ansu closing in on return to action
Ansu returned to training at the end of August after nine months out of action with a serious knee injury, but is still waiting for his first appearance of the 2021-22 campaign.
Koeman is confident that he will be ready to play again by the start of October, though, and is eager to welcome him back amid a lack of high-quality options in the final third.
“We do not set a date, but he is working with the team,” he said. “It could be in a week or in 10 days. We know that we are lacking in attack and if Ansu can have minutes it is important. We are talking about a great player.”
Koeman also delivered updates on Aguero and Philippe Coutinho as the former continues his recovery from a calf issue and the latter seeks to force his way back into the fold after missing pre-season.
“Kun is working with the physio and he still lacks. Coutinho entered well the other day and we will decide if he can start. It will not be for 90 minutes,” he continued. “We have to look for the best for the team and for Philippe.”
Koeman on his future
Questions have been asked over Koeman’s position once again in the wake of Barca’s humiliating loss to Bayern, but he insists that he’s not feeling any pressure.
“We are confident in winning games, but there is still a long way to go,” he said. “I hope to get people back to have more players available. I know the results count.
“I have no fear about my future. In the end the club and the president (Laporta) decide.”