Koeman: A fit Messi is a hugely important player for Barcelona

The new Barcelona coach has spoken ahead of the first friendly of preseason on Saturday

Koeman, contento con el trabajo de los jugadores | FCB

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The new Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has evaluated the club's preseason so far in an interview with the in-house media team at Camp Nou. 

Koeman was speaking ahead of the first friendly of his era, which is against Gimanstic de Tarragona at the Johan Cruyff Stadium on Saturday. 

"The team are working very well, with intensity, and I am very happy with the work that the team has been doing during these two weeks," the Dutchman said.  

"They've been very positive. We're two weeks in and the players are working very well. There is a good level of intensity in training, furst of all with the fitness side in the opening weeks, and now with tactics."

"The players have shown a lot of spirit, interest and intensity, and that is the most important thing, because for me you have to train how you play. It's very important and I am very happy with the work that the team have done over these two weeks."

Unusual preseason 

However, Koeman acknowledged that it's been an unusual preseason due to the coronavirus pandemic and the late start. 

He added: "It's tricky. It's a short preseason and we only get four weeks before the opening game against Villarreal. It's also more of an individual preseason, as some players who have had more of a rest and others who have played games. We have to try to ensure that everybody is in top form before the opening game.

"Now we have some friendlies and training sessions in which to get into good shape and face a tough LaLiga season."

Messi

There was also some focus on Lionel Messi, who joined training late after unsuccessfully trying to engineer a move away from Barca this summer. 

"He's the best," Koeman said. "A fit Messi is a hugely important player and he has shown that for many years. I hope that he can repeat that this season." 

Koeman also said that he will play a different team in each half of Saturday's game against Nastic, with no player playing more than 45 minutes.

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