Thursday, October 29, 2020

Barca boss Koeman sparks doubts over Dembele amid Man Utd links

SoccerNews in La Liga 2 Oct 2020

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Ronald Koeman said Pedri and Francisco Trincao are more decisive than Ousmane Dembele as the Barcelona head coach explained the rumoured Manchester United target’s place on the bench against Celta Vigo.

Dembele – linked with Premier League giants United – was an unused substitute in 10-man Barca’s 3-0 LaLiga victory at Celta on Thursday.

The France international has emerged as an alternative to Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, with United reportedly eyeing a loan deal before the transfer window closes.

Asked about Dembele’s absence, Dutchman Koeman cited tactical reasons post-match.

“If I think about not choosing a player, you have to think about the game,” Koeman told reporters.

“We went ahead with the opening goal and we had players on the bench in Pedri and Trincao who can bring more than Dembele can, to be decisive, to make changes in that sense.”

Ansu Fati made it three goals in two games, while a Lucas Olaza own goal and Sergi Roberto’s stoppage-time strike ensured Barca defeated Celta.

Barca were already one goal ahead via Fati’s 11th-minute opener when defender Clement Lenglet was sent off for a second bookable offence three minutes before half-time.

The LaLiga powerhouse secured back-to-back wins to start the season after Celta defender Olaza turned the ball into his own net and Roberto added a third goal at the death.

Koeman, who replaced Quique Setien following a tumultuous season which saw Barca dethroned by Real Madrid in LaLiga and humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League, added: “I can only speak about this season, I can’t say about what happened last season. What I’ve seen since my first day is that these players are hungry.

“They’re not willing to give in after a season like that. They’re working a lot, these players are training hard with more intensity. I think it’s important, the way that we’re training and that’s been shown today until the last second with one player down away from home. I think you can notice it in all the details across the pitch.

“I think like any coach you need time, but I think the team are much better than everyone would have thought before. There have been some difficult games and we have six points.

“We’ve scored seven goals and haven’t conceded one. I think those statistics show we’re growing and of course there are always things to improve on. But we’ve worked really hard for these matches and I’m really happy.”

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