BARCELONA – Barcelona began its preseason tour in Germany this Wednesday, conditioned by the coronavirus crisis and that for the second consecutive summer did not allow it to make a transoceanic trip, which will last until August 2 with a friendly match, the next Saturday, against Stuttgart.
Ronald Koeman sent 25 footballers to the camp, 15 of them from the first team and 10 from the subsidiary, including the injured Philippe Coutinho, Ansu Fati, Marc-André ter Stegen and Ousmane Dembélé; in addition to Sergio Agüero and Emerson who are still on vacation.
Neither Lionel Messi, of course, who does not officially belong to the Barça club and landed for a few hours in Barcelona pending solving his future. Nor was the youthful Ilaix Moriba part of the expedition, separated by the club from the dynamics of the first team as long as the talks with their representatives to extend the contract do not advance until June 2022 and who, for the moment, maintains positions that are very remote. between the two parties.
Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets and Martin Braithwaite, who joined after finishing their holidays, were the great novelties of a group that is completed by Neto, Sergiño Dest, Gerard Piqué, Ronald Araújo, Samuel Umtiti, Clement Lenglet, Miralem Pjanic, Riqui Puig, Sergi Roberto, Frenkie de Jong, Antoine Griezmann and Memphis Depay in terms of first team players and together with ten homegrown players: Peña, Tenas, Collado, Nico, Comas, Balde, Rey Manaj, Yusuf Demir and Mortimer as representatives of Barcelona B, and 16-year-old youth midfielder Gavi.
Of the total of 25 players who start this tour, it is unknown how many will finish it, since Barcelona follows the steps to lighten its salary mass. As for the homegrown players, the Albanian Rey Manaj, Barça B’s top scorer last season and who scored three goals in the first two preseason games, negotiates his departure with several proposals on the table, while the permanence of Àlex Collado, who was renewed in June, is not insured after the player himself said he had no intention of remaining in the subsidiary and Koeman did not guarantee him a permanent place in the first team.
More doubts, and more transcendent, are contemplated among the players of the first team to whom the club wants to start and of whom Ronald Koeman must be especially attentive. At the forefront of the stage is Miralem Pjanic, whose return to Juventus is considered very possible and who was fed by the Italian club’s own coach Massimiliano Allegri, although it would be outlined in assignment mode and pending the salary distribution.
Likewise, Samuel Umtiti, Braithwaite and even Neto traveled without having their permanence assured in the squad, although the three cases have different consideration in the club. The French center-back knows Barcelona’s decision not to have him but remains firm in his determination to continue as long as a favorable solution to his interests is not resolved … which are based on an assured salary of more than 20 million euros net per season and with two years ahead.
With Braithaite there are various contacts that bring him closer to the Premier League, with Wolverhampton pending after the efforts of Jorge Mendes and despite the anger of his representative Hasan Cetinkaya but with other suitors interested in a possible signing.
More tricky is the case of the Brazilian goalkeeper. Economically, the club is indisputably interested in his departure, having an open market in the Premier League itself, but sportingly there are doubts. The main one is personalized by the injury from which Ter Stegen is recovering and which will prevent him from playing the first days of the League. Koeman, from the outset, would be favorable to the permanence of Neto to cover the goal in those circumstances, although in this preseason he will evaluate the confidence that Iñaki Peña can transmit to him, that if he convinces the Dutch coach, it would facilitate the Brazilian’s departure.