Ronald Koeman attended the media on Sunday to preview Barcelona’s next game, against Valladolid at Camp Nou on Monday night.
How have you been planning for this game, which comes following the international break and one week before El Clásico?
We know that Valladolid have players who are either ruled out by injury or Covid. Despite the break, the players have returned in great spirits. We know what we are playing for and we have to win.
Could it be a trick game?
We have to be prepared for Valladolid. It’s going to be difficult, even if they have players who are out. If we go into the game with energy and rhythm, that will help. I am not taking anything for granted, if we want to win, we will need to work for it.
Messi and De Jong are one booking away from being suspended and could miss El Clásico, have you thought about resting them?
We know, the risk is always there, but now isn’t the moment to rest. They both know that. We have to take one game at a time and put out our best possible team in every game.
Have you spoke to Laporta about his meeting with Haaland’s father and agent?
We used the international break to meet up with the president and discuss the future, but I cannot talk about players who play for other clubs.
Would it be helpful to have a deadline to know Messi will decide?
It’s a very important issue. We are going to do everything we possibly can to ensure that he stays. But right now, what matters is tomorrow’s game. Things regarding the future are up to the president. We just focus on our games.
How are Sergi Roberto and Piqué?
They are training with the squad. They’ve improved quite a bit. We’ll make a decision on them tomorrow. We’re not going to take any risks. We have other games after El Clásico.
Has the board given you signs that they have faith in you?
Yes, very much so. It’s normal after the changes we’ve made. But in this world, we know we have to keep on winning matches.
What do you have in mind with Àlex Collado, who renewed his contract the other day?
He’s an interesting player, but these things are internal matters. Right now, he hand his team mates have an important play-off to get through. That’s why Ilaix was back with the B team
It was against Valladolid that you started using three centre-backs, what made you do that?
Because of the system they use, to try and to have a player who is free to move between lines. It’s been working well for us lately.
Are you concerned about the amount of playing time Dembélé, Griezmann and De Jong had with their national teams?
They’ll all come back looking happy without any problems. Some of played a lot because they are important for their national teams. We are in a moment when we have to be full on.
Would it be realistic to think that Barça will sign a top striker this summer?
I don’t know, it will depend on the board and the president. They are the one who will make a decision based on the club’s finances.