After overseeing a comfortable victory over Real Sociedad, the FC Barcelona manager spoke again on Messi and praised three of his players.
Ronald Koeman highlighted the importance of Barcelona’s game becoming more collective without Lionel Messi.
The Catalan club began life in the post-Messi era with a convincing 4-2 win over Real Sociedad on Sunday. Martin Braithwaite scored twice, while Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto also hit the back of the net. It ensured Barcelona of all three points for their first game of the new La Liga season.
The result came less than a week after Messi completed a free transfer to Paris Saint-Germain from Camp Nou.
“I think our game can be more collective than before, but I’d prefer to have Messi in my team. But if we don’t have the player, it has to be the collective,” said Koeman as per the Mail.
Three players get a special mention
While delighted with everyone in his squad, Koeman singled out Memphis Depay, Braithwaite, and Pique for special praise.
In his first La Liga game, Depay gave a thrilling performance at Camp Nou. The Dutchman may not have scored, but he got a standing ovation for his efforts from the fans as he made way for Clement Lenglet late in the match.
“He played a great game, and he gave a great assist. He’s always doing things,” Koeman said of Depay.
While Braithwaite scored two goals, provided an assist for Roberto’s injury-time goal, and he also impressed with his work rate.
“He’s an example of a professional,” Koeman said of the Dane. “He always works for the team and has improved his game. He has speed and is difficult to stop. I’m delighted to have a player like him.”
As for Pique, who took a pay cut to allow Koeman and the club to register Depay and Eric Garcia, the Barcelona manager added: “He was the leader last year, but this season he is better physically. His attitude has been exemplary, like that of the other veterans.”
Next up for Barcelona is a trip to Athletic Club on Saturday for their second match of the La Liga season.