Under-fire Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman cited the examples of Xavi and Andres Iniesta when insisting why the club’s woes aren’t all bad, though did give a grim assessment of their aim for the season.
Amid unprecedented financial turmoil, Barcelona oversaw the departures of a plethora of first-team stars this summer. Lionel Messi was the headline act leaving the Camp Nou, and predictably, their early season fortunes have taken a hit.
Barcelona were thumped 3-0 by Bayern Munich in their Champions League opener. After drawing with Granada on Monday, the La Liga giant sit in eighth place domestically.
The pressure on Koeman appears to be mounting amid rising tensions between the Dutchman and club president Joan Laporta.
Laporta has released two videos in the past week on social media addressing fans on the team’s predicament. He also asked for patience while the club deals with its colossal debt.
Now, Koeman has responded in his latest press conference, and refused to answer a single question after reading a pre-prepared statement.
“The club is with me in what is a process of reconstruction,” began the statement.
“The financial situation of the club is linked to the sporting performance of the team. That means that we have to rebuild the team without big money to spend and we need time.
“The young talents can be big stars in a couple of years and the good thing about rebuilding the team is that the young players will get their chance just as Xavi and (Andreas) Iniesta had theirs in their day. But patience is necessary.”
Setting the bar low for this season, Koeman continued: “Finishing in a high position this season will be a success.
“European football is a good school for these young players, but miracles cannot be expected in the Champions League. Last week’s defeat to Bayern Munich has to be seen with that perspective.”
Barcelona vulnerable to mooted Arsenal raid
Meanwhile, Arsenal are ‘maintaining contact’ with Barcelona over a midfield transfer, and the fee that could twist their arm has been revealed, according to a report.
Per Caught Offside, Arsenal have their sights set on landing a promising Barcelona star with his best years ahead. Citing Spanish outlet Todofichajes, Barcelona midfielder Riqui Puig is reportedly on their radar.
The 22-year-old has failed to break into Koeman’s starting eleven this season. Seemingly not in the Dutchman’s plans, an opening is there for any club with the desire and money to pounce.
Arsenal fit that bill, and are described as ‘maintaining contacts’ with Barcelona over his availability.
Despite significantly reducing their wage bill this summer, the article suggests they are still vulnerable in the market. An offer of around €20m could reportedly turn up the heat and ‘pressure’ them into selling.