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Koeman: “Pedri will have a two-week vacation after tomorrow’s game”

Ronald Koeman at the press room / Miguel Ruiz
Ronald Koeman at the press comference / Miguel Ruiz / FCB

FC Barcelona face Athletic Club at the San Mamés stadium on Saturday. Ronald Koeman sat down with the press prior to the match, where he talked about the match-up, Coutinho, Pedri and much more.

Here’s what the Barcelona coach had to say:

On the upcoming match against Athletic Club

“It is always a complicated stadium to play in. Athletic have improved. They have had a six-week preseason with their coach. They have been able to train well. It was noticed the other day. It is a strong team and we know what we are up against.”

On Braithwaite’s future

“We know the situation of the club. If there is an interest in a player, we will listen but Martin is doing very well for us. He plays in different positions at the top. He showed the other day that he is important for the team. I love working with him. He’s very disciplined. He accepts his role of not always playing. For me, I think he should stay.”

On Pedri

“It is true that we have been thinking about what we will do with Pedri for a while. It is true that from tomorrow he will rest for two weeks. I have spoken with Luis Enrique and these are their decisions (on calling Pedri up for the World Cup qualifying matches) that I cannot explain but we will give him two weeks of vacation because he needs it.”

On the number 10 jersey

“The number is a club issue. It is a decision that the club must make and not the coach. My opinion is not important.”

On Mbappe’s future

“I’m a Barça coach and I’m not interested. He’s a great player and he has to choose where to go or if he wants to stay. It’s not my problem.”

On the situation of Umtiti and Pjanic

“There are players like them who have a very difficult time having minutes and the final decision is always on the part of the players. They have a complicated situation, yes.”

On Coutinho

“Philippe is out because I think he needs one more week to train with the group before being called up. I do count on him because he is a great player. He can be important for Barça. He started playing last year, after he had an injury. I really count on Coutinho for this season.”

On Pique and Ter Stegen

“I was surprised by Piqué’s concerns yesterday. His discomforts are nothing and he is available for the game without problems. Another thing is Ter Stegen. He has been part of the training with the group. He has recovered well but needs to train more and we will see when he is ready to play.”

On Ilaix’s situation

“I spoke with him two or three weeks ago, more as a person than as a Barça coach. His situation is horrible. He is the future of the club but he does not play or is with us. I know from the club what Barça wants to offer the player. My advice is that money is not the most important thing but to play games, but the player and his people decide differently. I am disappointed by that. I believe more in football related things than in contracts. At 18 years old, money should not be so important.”

On the goalkeepers and Iñaki Peña

“I understand Iñaki Peña, who wants to play but I’m not going to risk it. I want to have three top-level goalkeepers so as not to get into trouble. At the moment there is nothing on the subject of our goalkeepers.”

On if he’s happy with Nico González

“I’m going to count on the youngsters. If they don’t play with the first team, they should do it with Barça B. Despite training, they must compete. Nico, like the rest, is the future of the club.”

On the pressure of being the coach of FC Barcelona

“It is true (as Valverde said) but I am not alone. I am where I want to be, I love being the coach of this club and I know that in big clubs there is more pressure. But I am holding on, there is a good attitude, good atmosphere and there are no problems in this regard.”

On Pedri’s rest and Coutinho

“Pedri will not play against Getafe. And as for Coutinho, he can play in various positions. He can enter from the left wing. We have lost goals with Messi and we have to look for them in others. Philippe is one of them.”

On the center-backs

“I’m happy to have five or six center-backs. We need them and I have spoken about the situation of Umtiti, who has fewer options. Lenglet is the only left-footed central defender. He will have games and it all depends on the level of the team. This week there is a game but after the international break there will be two games per week and we need all the players.”

On playing against Athletic

“We have a lot of experience playing against them. We played four games last season. You have to be in good positions. Avoid physical play, where they are very strong. It’s a great game. They come to pressure and they can surprise us, just like we can surprise them.”