Koeman: Barcelona need a new striker

By Sports Desk January 03, 2021

Ronald Koeman said Barcelona were missing a number nine as they scored just once from 20 shots on goal in a 1-0 victory over Huesca, and called for the club to sign a new striker.

Lionel Messi returned to the Barcelona side after recovering from an ankle injury and Koeman opted to play him in attack alongside Martin Braithwaite and Ousmane Dembele.

The trio attempted 15 shots between them but it was Frenkie de Jong who scored the decisive goal, volleying Messi's chipped pass into the net after 27 minutes.

Koeman, who sent on Antoine Griezmann for Braithwaite nine minutes from time, admitted that he lacks a natural striker to lead the line in between the creative talents of Messi and Dembele.

"I trust each player in our squad," Koeman told reporters. "But if we choose to have three midfielders there is room for three forwards.

"With Leo we bet on someone with great depth like Dembele, and we have to choose between Martin or Antoine at the top and Martin has done it.

"It's a nine that we're missing in these games but it doesn't mean anything in regards to Antoine's substitution. We have a lot of games and we need all the players.

"We have said several times, at the beginning of the season, that we need someone at the top to have more competition and more goals, more effectiveness, but this depends on many things."

Koeman indicated that he believes improving his striking options will help reduce the pressure on Barcelona's defence, which absorbed waves of Huesca attacks as the hosts sought an equaliser late on at El Alcoraz.

Barcelona were on target with just seven of their 20 shots at goal and Koeman said they must close games out earlier to avoid nervous late spells.

"The second half was not so brilliant," admitted Koeman.

"In the end we suffer a little because they have tried to create and there have been crosses where we have defended well. If you don't close out the game earlier, you always suffer."

Looking ahead to LaLiga clashes with Athletic Bilbao and Granada, and a Supercopa de Espana semi-final against Real Sociedad, Koeman added: "This month is very important for our aspirations because we have many away games and if we win them I think we can fight.

"We have come out strong, very focused, and that is the main base we need. If we have those two things we will improve with the ball and if we can also improve in front of goal we can have a very important and good year."

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  • European Super League: Comparing all 12 clubs in planned breakaway competition European Super League: Comparing all 12 clubs in planned breakaway competition

    If you are a football fan there is simply no escaping the controversy caused by the announcement 12 teams have signed up to form a breakaway European Super League.

    Talk of such a competition is nothing new, rumours have been swirling for years, but the furore caused has still been widespread with pundits, players and fans alike united in their disapproval.

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    But part of the debate has also centred around the credentials of some of the teams who have been invited to participate, with six from the Premier League, three from LaLiga and three from Serie A agreeing to join. Below we have reviewed each of the 12 clubs involved.

    THE 'BIG SIX' FROM THE PREMIER LEAGUE

    Arsenal

    Arsenal's place on the list comes with the club having failed to qualify for the Champions League since the 2016-17 season, the penultimate year of Arsene Wenger's long reign. The Gunners appear unlikely to make a return via the domestic route this season, as they sit well adrift of the top four in the Premier League. However, they are still in the Europa League, with a semi-final tie against Spanish side Villarreal – coached by former Arsenal boss Unai Emery, no less – to come.

    Founded: October 1886 (initially as Dial Square)

    Trophies won: 
    First Division/Premier League: 13 times (last time was in 2003-04)
    FA Cup: 14 times
    EFL Cup: 2 times
    UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: Once

    Social media following: 
    Twitter: 17.3m
    Instagram: 19.2m
    Facebook: 38.3m

    Chelsea

    The outlook for Chelsea changed dramatically in 2003, when Roman Abramovich became the new owner. Prior to the Russian's arrival, the Blues had one the top-flight title just once. They have been crowned Premier League champions five times since, however, and also enjoyed Champions League success in 2012. In overcoming Porto across two legs, they have reached the semi-finals of the competition this term for the first time since 2014.

    Founded: March 1905

    Trophies won:
    First Division/Premier League: Six times 
    FA Cup: Eight times
    League Cup: Five times
    Champions League: Once
    Europa League: Twice 
    UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: Twice
    UEFA Super Cup: Once

    Social media following: 
    Twitter - 16.6m
    Instagram - 25.9m
    Facebook - 49.4m

    Liverpool 

    The Reds have a storied history, but there has been success in recent seasons under the guidance of Jurgen Klopp. No British club has won Europe's premier club competition more times than Liverpool, while the 2019-20 Premier League title triumph finally ended a 30-year wait to get back on their perch at home. However, they only featured in the Champions League once between the 2009-10 and 2017-18 campaigns, while their hopes of repeating their success of 2019 since lifting the trophy in Madrid have resulted in exits to Spanish opponents who also involved in the Super League. 

    Founded: June 1892

    Trophies won:
    First Division/Premier League: 19 times
    FA Cup: Seven times
    League Cup: Eight times
    Champions League: Six times
    UEFA Cup: Three times
    UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: Twice
    UEFA Super Cup: Four times
    FIFA Club World Cup: Once

    Social media following: 
    Twitter - 17m
    Instagram - 30.5m
    Facebook - 39.1m

    Manchester City

    The Premier League champions in waiting are on course to claim a third title with Pep Guardiola at the helm. However, City slipped down to the third tier of the English football pyramid as recently as 1998, while only became one of the powerhouses of the domestic game following the arrival of a new owner in Sheikh Mansour. They first appeared in the Champions League in 2011-12 and are yet to get beyond the semi-final stage, meaning the Cup Winners' Cup success in 1970 remains the club's only European trophy.

    Founded: April 1894

    Trophies won:
    First Division/Premier League: Six times
    FA Cup: Six times
    League Cup: Seven times
    European Cup Winners' Cup: Once

    Social media following:
    Twitter - 9.5m
    Instagram - 23.3m
    Facebook - 40.2m 

    Manchester United

    United were the dominant force in the Premier League era under Alex Ferguson, winning the title 13 times to overtake Liverpool's record tally. However, since their legendary manager departed, the Red Devils have not managed to add to their overall tally as 20-time top-flight champions. There was FA Cup success under Louis van Gaal - who was then sacked - and an EFL-Europa League double during Jose Mourinho's time in charge at Old Trafford. In the Champions League, United have only gone as far as the last eight since losing the 2011 final to a Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona.

    Founded: 1902

    Trophies won:
    First Division/Premier League - 20 times
    FA Cup - 12 times
    League Cup - Five times
    European Cup/Champions League - Three times
    Europa League - Once
    European Cup Winners' Cup - Once
    European Super Cup - Once
    FIFA Club World Cup - Once

    Social media following:
    Twitter - 25.1m
    Instagram - 40.1m
    Facebook - 73.2m

    Tottenham

    Now searching for a new manager following the dismissal of Jose Mourinho less than 24 hours after confirming their Super League involvement, Spurs' best-ever finish in a Premier League season came in 2016-17 when second behind champions Chelsea. There was a Champions League final appearance in 2019 too, though they missed out on glory when losing 1-0 to Liverpool. Indeed, Tottenham have not secured silverware since the League Cup triumph in 2008, while the most recent of their two top-flight league titles was way back in 1960-61.

    Founded: 1882

    Trophies won:
    First Division - twice
    FA Cup - eight times
    League Cup - four times
    UEFA Cup - twice
    European Cup Winners' Cup - once

    Social media following:
    Twitter - 5.8m
    Instagram - 10.2m
    Facebook - 22.5m

    THE REMAINING CLUBS INVOLVED

    Atletico Madrid

    A huge club in their own right, of that there is no doubt. But the last of Atleti's LaLiga title wins came in 2014, and that was only their second since 1977. Three times runners-up for Europe's greatest continental prize but as yet there has been no Champions League triumph for Atletico Madrid. While Diego Simeone has overseen a great period at Atleti, and the club has muscled into the fight with their more illustrious Clasico rivals, it should certainly be no shoo-in that Atleti deserve an automatic spot at this table.

    Founded: April 1903

    Trophies won:
    LaLiga: 10 times
    Copa del Rey: 10 times
    Supercopa de Espana: Twice
    Europa League: Three times
    UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: Once
    UEFA Super Cup: Three times

    Social media following:
    Twitter – 4.9m (Spanish account)
    Instagram – 11.1m
    Facebook - 13m

    Barcelona

    Another LaLiga heavyweight, boasting the talents of Lionel Messi of course, that would certainly not be out of place in a Super League, both in terms of history and trophies won. Barcelona's well-documented financial issues off the pitch may also offer a further explanation for the desire for a mind-boggling windfall. While Barca were beaten to LaLiga by Clasico rivals Madrid last term, they have already collected silverware this time around in the form of the Copa del Rey. Champions League success has not arrived since 2015 but Barca's credentials stand up to scrutiny.

    Founded: March 1899

    Trophies won:
    LaLiga: 26 times
    Copa del Rey: 31 times
    Supercopa de Espana: 13 times
    Champions League/European Cup: Five times
    UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: Four times
    UEFA Super Cup: Five times
    Club World Cup: Three times

    Social media following:
    Twitter – 15m (Spanish account)
    Instagram – 95.9m
    Facebook - 103m

    Inter

    The Milan giants are a club rich in history, who have scaled the heights in European football.  But also another who have struggled to reach such past glories until this term – with Antonio Conte's side appearing primed to win a first Serie A title since 2010, the year Jose Mourinho oversaw a famous treble also comprising the Coppa Italia and Champions League. While some would dispute Inter's place in a Super League, the signs are the Nerazzurri are on the way back to consistently challenging among the elite.

    Founded: March 1908

    Trophies won:
    Serie A: 18 times
    Coppa Italia: Seven times
    Supercoppa Italiana: Seven times
    Champions League/European Cup: Three times
    UEFA Cup: Three times
    Club World Cup: Once

    Social media following:
    Twitter – 2.3m (Italian account)
    Instagram – 6.5m
    Facebook – 28m

    Juventus

    The Old Lady of Italian football. With 36 Serie A titles to their name, Juventus are the most successful club in the history of the Italian top flight. While the Bianconeri have not won the Champions League since 1996, they have been runners-up in 2015 and 2017 and no one can doubt the grandeur of this historic club. The past decade in Italy has been dominated by Juventus who have won nine titles in a row, but their quest for 10 has hit a bump as a side spearheaded by the evergreen Cristiano Ronaldo sits fourth in the maiden campaign of Andrea Pirlo.

    Founded: November 1897

    Trophies won:
    Serie A: 36 times
    Coppa Italia: 13 times
    Supercoppa Italiana: Nine times
    Champions League/European Cup: Twice
    UEFA Cup/Europa League: Three times
    UEFA Super Cup: Twice

    Social media following:
    Twitter – 9.1m (Italian account)
    Instagram – 48.2m
    Facebook – 45m

    Milan

    Once of the most revered and loved teams across the globe, the Rossoneri have fallen on hard times in recent years. Only Madrid can boast more than Milan's seven European/Champions League victories, while many of the all-time greats have donned the famous red and black jersey. But you have to go back to 2007 for the last time Milan were crowned champions of Europe, while 10 years have past since they lifted the Serie A title. Indeed, they have not even played in the Champions League since the 2013-14 campaign – albeit Stefano Pioli's men appeared destined to return to the competition this term.

    Founded: 1899

    Trophies won:
    Serie A: 18 times
    Coppa Italia: Five times
    Supercoppa Italiana: Seven times
    Champions League/European Cup: Seven times
    European Cup Winners' Cup: Twice
    UEFA Super Cup: Five times
    Club World Cup: Once

    Social media following:
    Twitter – 7.7m
    Instagram – 9.7m
    Facebook – 24m

    Real Madrid

    While some of the teams in this controversial process may raise a few eyebrows, there is little doubt a club with the prestige of Real Madrid would not be involved. Record winners of the European Cup/Champions League on 13 occasions (the last of which coming as recently as 2018, the third in succession under Zinedine Zidane), and 34 times winners of LaLiga (including last season) there is little doubt Los Blancos are an established part of the European elite. This term, they are into the semi-finals of the Champions League and sit second in a tight race for the top flight title in Spain.

    Founded: March 1902 (initially as Madrid football club)

    Trophies won:
    LaLiga: 34 times
    Copa del Rey: 19 times
    Supercopa de Espana: 11 times
    Champions League/European Cup: 13 times
    UEFA Cup: Twice
    UEFA Super Cup: Four times
    Club World Cup: Four times

    Social media following:
    Twitter – 36.8m (Spanish account)
    Instagram – 97.1m
    Facebook – 110m

  • Rumour Has It: Bayern targeting Camavinga as Spurs eye Nagelsmann and Sarri Rumour Has It: Bayern targeting Camavinga as Spurs eye Nagelsmann and Sarri

    France, Spain or Germany?

    Eduardo Camavinga has admirers following his exploits for Rennes in Ligue 1.

    Some of Europe's biggest clubs are interested, but could he be set for Bavaria?

     

    TOP STORY – CAMAVINGA WANTED IN GERMANY

    Bayern Munich are hoping to sign Rennes sensation Eduardo Camavinga, according to France Football.

    Camavinga is unwilling to extend his Rennes contract and the 18-year-old has been linked with Real Madrid, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal.

    Borussia Monchengladbach's Florian Neuhaus is also on Bayern's list, though the Bundesliga champions reportedly feel Camavinga could be better value for money.

     

    ROUND-UP

    - Who will permanently replace Jose Mourinho as Tottenham head coach following his sacking on Monday? Football Italia claims Spurs have contacted former Juventus, Chelsea and Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri. The Daily Mail, however, reports RB Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann is Tottenham's top candidate.

    - La Razon says West Ham are leading the race to sign Sevilla forward Youssef En-Nesyri, who has also been linked with United and Liverpool.

    PSG are the most likely suitors for Arsenal full-back Hector Bellerin, according to Sport. Bellerin is likely to leave the Gunners and he has been linked to Barcelona.

    - Sport says Barca's plans depend on Lionel Messi's future. Messi is out of contract at the end of the season, but president Joan Laporta is keen to re-sign the superstar amid reported interest from PSG and Manchester City. It comes as Barca target Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, who has also been linked with rivals Real Madrid, United, City, Chelsea, Liverpool, PSG and Juventus. Lyon captain Memphis Depay, City's Sergio Aguero and Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum are also reportedly wanted at Camp Nou.

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