Barcelona officials are reportedly perplexed by Quique Setien’s refusal to use Ansu Fati or Riqui Puig in their Champions League clash with Napoli.
Barcelona reached the quarter-finals by beating Napoli 3-1 in the second leg of their Round of 16 tie. They had drawn the first leg 1-1 back in February.
The La Liga giants are now due to face Bayern Munich in a one-off quarter-final. But the way they have got there has baffled the club hierarchy.
According to Marca, Barcelona do not understand why coach Setien did not use youngsters Fati or Puig in the second leg against Napoli.
The duo are eligible to play for Barca’s B team, who had a promotion play-off final against Sabadell towards the end of July which could have seen them return to the second tier.
Setien did not want Fati or Puig to play for the B team in that game. The Barca boss thought it would disrupt their preparations for the Napoli game. With several injuries to their more experienced players, Fati and Puig could have been important against Napoli.
However, that decision was costly, as Sabadell won the play-off. The club miss out on around €10m in TV rights as a result.
And Setien’s refusal to make his young starlets available for the play-off match came into further question when he did not bring on either Fati or Puig against Napoli. That was despite them both being on the bench.
Intriguingly, B team captain Monchu did come on – and Setien did not use all five substitutions he had available. But the coach defended his decision not to use Fati or Puig.
After the game, Setien explained: “Given the circumstances, we thought it was appropriate (not to field them).”
With Setien’s future far from clear after they missed out on retaining their La Liga title, this disagreement may not work in his favour. Reports have even suggested Lionel Messi wants Barca to replace Setien with Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa.
Meanwhile, reports have linked Fati with a move to Manchester United. The Premier League club may have made a €100m bid, but Barcelona want to keep him.