Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has finally opened up and offered his thoughts on French defender Samuel Umtiti and young midfielder Riqui Puig.
The duo both struggled for game time under Koeman during his first season in charge and have not managed a single minute of action so far in 2021-22. There have even been reports Koeman has advised the duo to leave the club.
The Dutch coach has now been asked about the futures of both players at the Camp Nou and offered his thoughts in an interview with Mundo Deportivo’s Fernando Polo.
“The coach always looks for the strongest team and each player has their opportunities and can show the coach in training that he deserves more opportunities. If not, it is the technician’s decision because there is competition. One in the center of the field, because there are many players, and the other in the defensive position, some time after his injury,” he said. “It’s working and working, and Umtiti tries to get the most out of training. And in the last two weeks, with the preseason we have done, physically he is better than last year. And if he is physically well, Umtiti is a very good central defender. And Riqui has to improve things that we have talked about during the preseason.”
Umtiti was expected to leave in the summer but requested to stay for another season, according to Marca. Barcelona president Joan Laporta pointed out Umtiti’s lack of game time in a meeting between the two but agreed he could stay after the defender burst into tears and explained Barca’s medical staff had not treated his injury correctly.