Barca coach Ronald Koeman on Messi, Ansu Fati and Pedri

The Dutchman spoke to the club magazine in a wide-ranging interview

Ronald Koeman looked back at his first months in charge of Camp Nou in an interview with Barca magazine. He spoke about Leo Messi and the youngsters who have impressed to date, as well as the pandemic impact.

“It’s hardest of all at home because at such a big stadium, when there are no fans, it’s harder for the players,” said Koeman. “After this time maybe you’re more used to playing without fans but I think each time a player goes onto the pitch when there’s no atmosphere, it’s very strange. You miss the atmosphere a lot.”

On Messi and the need to rotate him at 33, he said: “If he is fit to play and good enough, then he will. But, of course, Leo is older than before, although he’s a player who still wants to be in games, and especially to win them. He trains hard every day. He’s very engaged. As I coach I like to speak to my players, and I also speak to Leo about this and other things because he’s also team captain. There are squad matters, rules, and we speak about a lot of things, not just the way we play. That’s part of a coach’s day-to-day, you need to be in communication with your players.”

On Ansu and Pedri he added: “It’s always nice to talk about youngsters. They deserve it, but they are also players that still have a lot to learn. But what Ansu and Pedri have done aged just 17 or 18 in such a big team as Barça is something very big. Pedri has come from Las Palmas very young and is already playing games against teams like Madrid and Juventus, and doing so fantastically.

“It is important for a club to have youngsters and for them to get chances. You need to switch the team around little by little. You still need the older players but they won’t be around forever and you need to plan changes in good time, calmly. Pedri has earned his place in games because of his work in training. He has shown me what a good player he is and that he is able to play in a team like Barcelona.”

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