Koeman: Messi is the past and Barcelona have to live in the present

Koeman: Messi is the past and Barcelona have to live in the present

Ronald Koeman has made clear that while the departure of Lionel Messi is a big blow, Barcelona need to move on.

Speaking ahead of Barcelona's opening LaLiga Santander fixture at home to Real Sociedad on Sunday night, the Dutch coach stressed his excitement ahead of new campaign.

"It's painful for all the Barcelona fans, for everything Messi has done," Koeman said during Saturday's pre-match press conference.

"But we mustn't live in the past either. They are things of the past, people change teams. I'm excited, I hope we have the same enthusiasm as the Barcelona fans. We have to live in the present, not the past."

One of the players that is expected to step up in the post-Messi era at Barcelona is Antoine Griezmann, who is a player that Koeman is a huge fan of.

"I love working with him, he's a team player, he always helps without the ball, he's always happy, he gives encouragement... he must take another step forward and be more clinical," Koeman noted.

"He will be more important without Leo, because he can occupy his position [on the pitch]."

Frenkie de Jong has been a doubt coming into this match against La Real, but Koeman has stated that he will be available for selection.

"He has done the last two training sessions without any problems. He is available for the game against Real Sociedad," the Barcelona boss confirmed.

Ansu Fati seems to finally be on the right path following his injury nightmare, and his coach at Barcelona thinks that he will be ready to play again after the next international break, which commences at the start of September.

"He has taken steps in his recovery, but maybe in two or three weeks he will be with the group. To play, after the [international] break," Koeman commented.

While returning injured players like Ansu Fati will be viewed as being 'like a new signing', Koeman still wants Barcelona to be on the lookout for an out-and-out striker.

"We are short of players, some players are still injured. The squad is short," he said.

"That's why we need a striker. But it depends on whether we can sign anyone. It depends on the [Financial] Fair Play issue. If we can, we will sign [someone]."

For many, the departure of Messi has seen a noticeable drop in the quality of Barcelona's starting XI, but Koeman does not share that view.

"There has been a lot of talk about Messi and it's normal, because of his performances, his quality... We won't have him anymore, but there are other players," he explained.

"We have a very strong squad. We have to recover our injured players. There are no more excuses, there are games, there are points [to be won]... We've had a good pre-season for five weeks."
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