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Barcelona coach Koeman insists Coutinho still in club’s plans | Football News – Times of India

August 20, 2021

BARCELONA: Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has said midfielder Philippe Coutinho is in his plans for this season following media reports that the club were looking to offload the Brazilian.
With the Catalans in dire straits financially, local media had suggested that Barca were actively trying to sell Coutinho in order to bring their wage bill down.
While Koeman confirmed that 29-year-old Coutinho will not be fit for this weekend’s trip to Athletic Bilbao, the Dutchman said the player will feature heavily this season.
“He needs another week to train with the group before we can pick him, but he’s in my plans because he’s a fantastic player,” Koeman told a news conference on Friday.
“He can be important for Barca. He was in the team last season but got injured – however I’m telling you, he’s in my plans this term.
“He can play in various positions, and we’ve lost goals with the departure of (Lionel) Messi and need to find them somewhere else. Philippe is an option in that sense.”
Koeman added that Pedri will be available for the game in the Basque country before being given time off after featuring in 74 games for club and country since the start of last season.
“We’ve been thinking about this for a while with Pedri and after tomorrow’s game we’ll give him a fortnight off,” he said.
“I’ve spoken to (Spain coach) Luis Enrique and they will make their own decisions and explain them, but from our point of view we’ll give him two weeks off.”
Defender Gerard Pique will also be fit, said Koeman, after media reports suggested he was an injury doubt, while goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen remains absent with a knee problem.

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