BARCELONA

Barcelona: Koeman on Eibar, Messi interview, Griezmann, Dembélé...

Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman spoke to the media ahead of Tuesday's LaLiga clash with Eibar at the Camp Nou.

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Barcelona: Koeman on Eibar, Messi interview, Griezmann, Dembélé...

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman spoke to the media on Monday, ahead of the Blaugrana’s LaLiga clash with Eibar on Tuesday night (19:15 CET).

Eibar match:

"They’re a very competitive side who look to press their opponents hard. We need to play the level of football we played in our last game [a 3-0 win at Real Valladolid]. We’ll need to be on our game; otherwise it’ll be a tough evening for us."

Lionel Messi absence:

"Leo had an ankle niggle, so he was unable to train and wasn’t fit to play. That’s why we gave him two days’ extra holiday. He'll back after the [Eibar] game. The doctors recommended he rest.

"[Messi's absence] is significant because of the quality he has. We’re losing a top player. But he’s part of a system. There are plenty of players who can occupy his position."

Did you watch Messi's interview with Jordi Évole?

"I didn’t watch the interview live, but I’ve read about it in the press today. I think it’s great if he gives an interview to put his opinions across. We can’t try to influence his decision; all we can do is try to get the best out of him, and we’ll see what happens."

Messi said your appointment was a good decision - how do you feel about that?

"I’m grateful for what Leo said. Everyone likes it when people say positive things about them. I remain the same coach who’s trying to take the team forward in a year of transition."

Could Mauricio Pochettino's arrival at PSG increase the likelihood of Messi moving to Paris?

"I don’t know. I don’t know if what the media is saying is true. What Messi decides to do with his future doesn’t come down to a coach; it’s a decision he has to make with his family."

Will Ousmane Dembélé make the Eibar game?

"He’s in good shape. He’s been training with the team for days. He should be a part of the squad."

January departures:

"We’re talking about where we can improve and about players we’re not giving a lot of game time to, but nothing is definite. Our job is to prepare these things and finalise them when there’s a president."

Will you be sticking with the 3-5-2 formation you used against Valladolid?

"You can talk all you like about systems, but the most important thing is the energy the team shows and how the players work. Any system can be defensive or attacking; it depends on the attitude of the team."

Is Antoine Griezmann the man to fill Messi's boots?

"We need players who provide cutting edge in attack and we need others to play to their best [in Messi's absence]."

Intense year:

"It was quiet at the beginning, because I was a national coach. I had problems with my heart and then covid came. That made things very hard. Now I’m where I wanted to be, but it’s not an easy place. That said, there are no easy places for a coach to work. It all comes down to results. Hopefully next year will be better in terms of covid and for the club."