Ronald Koeman has revealed that he would have been fine with Luis Suarez staying at Barcelona.
Former Liverpool striker Suarez left Barca after six seasons this summer, joining Atletico Madrid in a bargain deal. Reports indicated that new manager Koeman did not have room for the Uruguayan in his plans.
However, not everyone at Camp Nou was happy with the decision to let Suarez – Barcelona’s third-highest scorer of all-time – depart.
The 33-year-old has started his Atletico career in good form, with two goals on his debut. Barcelona only have one player – Ansu Fati – who has scored more in La Liga so far this season.
Now, Koeman has admitted that Suarez could have stayed in Catalonia, even if he wouldn’t have played as regularly.
Koeman told NOS: “In the case of Suarez, it had become very difficult for him to start playing and I made that known to him. He found it difficult, but I never had any trouble with him at all.
“He trained normally, trained well. He finally made the choice to leave and I said: ‘If you don’t leave, for whatever reason, then you are just one of the group, then you can prove that I was wrong.’ He could have stayed, yes.
“I’m good with Luis, but the club felt that we had to rejuvenate. You can see that now in the team.
“Ansu Fati plays, he is 17 years old. We have Pedri, 17 years old, who gets his chances. Ronald Araujo is there at the age of 21. Trincao falls in a lot and is 20 years old, and we have taken Sergino Dest, who is 19. Those are all players for the future.”
Koeman reveals Messi message
One of the biggest critics of Barca’s decision to sell Suarez was Lionel Messi. The Argentine legend was already frustrated with the way the club has been run in recent years.
Messi had even threatened to leave himself in the summer. However, he eventually committed for the 2020-21 season – although he may still be on the move next summer.
Messi and Suarez are good friends off the pitch as well as on it. So, the six-time Ballon D’Or winner was not happy when his teammate was “thrown out” by Barcelona.
Koeman has now revealed that he spoke to Messi about his concerns surrounding the Suarez saga.
The Barca boss said: “If you have someone in the locker room with whom you and your wife and children also hang out outside football, then such a reaction makes sense.
“I also said that to Messi: ‘I understand that you are disappointed and think it is a terrible shame that he is leaving, but these are choices of the club’.”