Ancient times revive in Barcelona: Camp Nou is slowly but surely starting to become a Dutch enclave again. Ronald Koeman, Alfred Schreuder and Frenkie de Jong will soon be joined by Memphis Depay. FootballPrimeur discusses the new Barça and the role of Memphis in Koemans plans. During the first practice game of the season, the intentions of the new trainer became immediately clear: against Gimnàstic de Tarragona, the 4-2-3-1 system was used, which will be leading this season. Luis Suárez seems no longer necessary under Koeman and did not have to show up for the practice match: Koeman entered without pure number 9.
Antoine Griezmann was the deepest striker on paper, but often wanted to move away from the point of attack. Lionel Messi, Ansu Fati and seventeen-year-old newcomer Pedri were the three attacking midfielders, but were given the freedom to change positions.
That will be no different once the Spanish Confederation gives the green light and Memphis is allowed to register in Catalonia. The 53-time Dutch national will probably do the same at Barça as in the previous international period: fall back from the strikers position and play along. In recent years Suárez was the finisher at Camp Nou and Messi was allowed to make the game. Koeman, however, wants a more dynamic vanguard, including agile attack leader. According to AS, Memphis should become the missing piece in Koemans puzzle.
In all probability, he will be allowed to combine with the three Messi-Griezmann-Fati, who will play in Memphis back. If one of the four attacking pawns falls away or gets some rest, Koeman still has Ousmane Dembélé, Philippe Coutinho, Francisco Trincão, Pedri and Martin Braithwaite behind him. Unless, of course, one of them is still rented or sold. Braithwaite is currently the only pure centre runner in the selection, apart from Suárez: however, the Dane is also allowed to leave.
Meanwhile, Villarreal-home Barcelona is working towards the start of the new Primera División season: two more practice games and then Villarreal will come to Camp Nou on Sunday 27 September. The contours of the team that will be kicking off are already visible. Provided nothing crazy happens on the transfer market, reserve goalkeeper Neto will start the season below the bar: when Marc-André ter Stegen is fit again, the Brazilian will be back on his feet.
In the back Koeman has relatively few tastes. The multifunctional Sergi Roberto will be preferred on the right over Nélson Semedo, who sank through the ice against Bayern Munich. The central duo Gerard Piqué-Clément Lenglet will be retained, with the young Ronald Araújo and the injury prone Samuel Umtiti as alternatives. Left back and veteran Jordi Alba got his last chance during the preparation, but has little to fear from competitor Júnior Firpo.
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Fierce competition for De JongOp the midfield is crowding out: Koeman has five options for the two control positions. Pillar Sergio Busquets, like Alba, was on the seesaw, but started against Gimnàstic in the base: Carles Aleñá, who returned from Real Betis, was his partner. After the break they made way for the duo De Jong-Riqui Puig.
Busquets and De Jong seem to have Koemans preference for the time being, but should not slacken down: Aleñá and Puig received compliments from the Spanish press and are also serious candidates for a basic spot. What is more, another competitor has been added: Miralem Pjanic, taken over from Juventus for EUR 60 million. The Bosnian, however, joined later, in connection with a serious coronation test.