Ansu Fati marked his return with a brilliant late goal and Luuk de Jong opened his Barcelona account in a 3-0 LaLiga defeat of Levante.

Luuk de Jong doubled Barca's lead in his fourth appearance for the club following his move from Sevilla after his Netherlands team-mate Memphis Depay opened the scoring from the penalty spot.

An inspired performance from Aitor Fernandez prevented Barca from significantly boosting their goal difference as they totally dominated the game, with under-pressure boss Ronald Koeman watching on from the stands as he serves a two-match ban.

Fati, on as a late substitute, put the icing on the cake in his comeback following 10 months out with a knee injury, finishing superbly in stoppage time as Barca ended a run of three games without victory.

Depay sent Fernandez the wrong way from the spot just six minutes in, having produced great trickery to beat two defenders before being upended by Nemanja Radoja.

De Jong opened his Barca account eight minutes later, finishing clinically with his right foot after Sergino Dest had slipped him in.

Gerard Pique somehow failed to add a third from point-blank range and Gavi was unable to lob an advancing Fernandez, who showed great reflexes to tip the lively Depay's header over the crossbar.

Levante were unable to contain Depay and Fernandez diverted his right-footed drive around the post after some shambolic defending.

Teenager Nico Gonzalez, making his first Barca start, flashed a venomous long-range drive wide and Fernandez thwarted Depay yet again.

Sergio Postigo almost turned the impressive Gavi's cross into his own net before Fati was given a great ovation when he came off the bench with 10 minutes to go.

The 18-year-old looked like he had never been away as he spun away from a defender then beat another before finding the back of the net with a right-footed shot from outside the area.

Ronald Koeman called for caution over Ansu Fati's return to action after the youngster was included in Barcelona's squad for the first time in 10 months.

Fati has not played for Barca in 322 days, after he suffered a serious knee injury in November 2020.

The 18-year-old, who has taken the number 10 shirt vacated by Lionel Messi, has undergone three operations and only returned to training last month.

However, Fati has been called into Barca's 20-man squad for Sunday's home game against Levante, a team he has scored two goals against in two matches. He has only netted more times against Villarreal (three) in LaLiga.

Fati became the youngest goalscorer in Barcelona's history when he netted against Osasuna in August 2019 aged 16 years and 304 days and has since added a further 12 goals to his tally, but Koeman says the Spain international will need more time to recover full fitness.

"It's really important to have Fati back, for himself because he has been out injured for many months," Koeman told a news conference.

"We have a plan to recover him, to get him in his best shape, so he will have to get minutes little by little and the plan is that he will play around 15 minutes maximum [on Sunday].

"There is a long way to go before he is as sharp as he has been. He does not recover in two games or in two weeks. We have to help him. The most important thing is that he recovers.

"It depends on his state. We are talking about a young man who will give us a lot of quality, but little by little."

Koeman's future at Barcelona is far from certain. His position seems a precarious one, given president Joan Laporta is reportedly searching out replacements, with Belgium coach Roberto Martinez a rumoured target.

Barca have been held to draws by Granada and Cadiz in the last two games, with Koeman seeing red in the latter match.

"I have to learn from this. Be calmer. Think about the team and the game," Koeman said. "I am also human and there are moments in games where it is difficult to accept decisions."

As for his future, Koeman said: "I can't say much about this issue because I haven't been reading the press for a long time.

"I know the rumours out there, but all we have to do is win games. There are rumours, names. I'm not going to waste energy on things I can't control.

"The president can speak, he is the most important man at the club. I have no problem. I am involved in my job, I have to win games. The rest does not interest me."

Koeman also explained he believes he has the backing of the dressing room.

"Every player and every coach wants to win titles and games," he said.

"There are no differences on this issue because I have spoken with them. In general, the players agree. That is the important thing. In that sense, there are no differences of opinions between them and me."

Anthony Martial has reportedly been permitted to explore his options by Manchester United.

Martial has fallen down the pecking order at Old Trafford since Cristiano Ronaldo's return.

France international Martial scored four league goals for United last term, after netting 17 times in the 2019-20 Premier League campaign.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND PLOTS MARTIAL MOVE

Borussia Dortmund are bracing for Erling Haaland's departure by plotting a move for Manchester United forward Anthony Martial, claims 90Min.

Haaland, who has a release clause in his contract that activates in mid-2022, is being chased by a host of top clubs, including Premier League champions Manchester City, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, Liverpool and United.

Martial is still contracted to the Red Devils until 2024, having penned a five-year deal in January 2019, amid reported interest from Barca, Tottenham and Arsenal.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Transfer Window podcast claims City owner Sheikh Mansour wants to hijack Madrid's bid for PSG star Kylian Mbappe and sign him "at any cost". Mbappe has also been linked with United and Liverpool.

- Barcelona are looking at Reims' Spanish head coach Oscar Garcia as a replacement for under-pressure boss Ronald Koeman, per RMC Sport.

- Madrid midfielder Isco has held numerous rounds of negotiations with Serie A challengers Milan about a move to Italy, according to Todo Fichajes.

Barca are considering a move for Porto's Colombia international forward Luis Diaz next off-season, claims El Nacional.

- Diario AS says Theo Hernandez is ready to commit his long-term future to Milan amid interest from PSG and City.

Gerard Pique remains convinced Barcelona can recover from a slow start to challenge for trophies as Ronald Koeman received backing from within the club.

After a first LaLiga goalless draw with Cadiz in their 27th meeting, Barca have managed just two wins from their five top-flight games so far. 

Meanwhile, the Catalan club have gone without scoring in two of their past three games in all competitions, as many as in their previous 41, as they continue to suffer in the absence of Lionel Messi, who departed for Paris Saint-Germain amid financial difficulties. 

Despite the underwhelming opening to the campaign, Pique has called for unity at the club in pursuit of finding resolutions to their issues on and off the pitch. 

"The club have been riding the crest of a wave for many years," Pique told Movistar after Thursday's 0-0 draw. 

"We are going through a situation we aren't used to. These are turbulent years, with the change of president, and change of coaches. Together we have to do our best to provide peace of mind. 

"Everyone wants to win. There are many ways to deal with it. We can all complain or we can work. The players are here to work. 

"Let's not look for two sides. We are all with the president and also with the coach. We can't control the noise [around the club] and don't want to think about it." 

 

Indeed, the goalless draw means Barca have scored just eight goals after their first five games in the league, their worst return at this stage since 2003-04 (five). 

Frenkie de Jong's late dismissal was also Barca's second red card of the season, along with Eric Garcia against Athletic Bilbao, as many as in the whole previous campaign as Koeman's side continue to lack discipline. 

However, Pique is adamant Barca will return to the top of Spanish football. 

"I don't wear the Barcelona shirt to finish second or third," he continued. "I'm here to compete for trophies. 

"Sometimes we have to face moments like this. We feel the fans are behind us and the situation is complicated for us all. 

"I'm absolutely convinced, despite the start, that we'll be competing. The team is in good spirits and have the desire." 

Koeman's relationship issues with president Joan Laporta have been well-documented, as the former appears to be heading towards the exit door if results do not come soon. 

Barca technical secretary Ramon Planes did at least reject any suggestion that Koeman will be relieved of his duties ahead of the game against Levante on Sunday. 

"Yes, it will be with Koeman, who has our support," Planes responded to Movistar after the Cadiz game. "Football is set up like this, the coaches are in permanent examination and in a big club, even more so. 

"We are Barca, the best club in the world, we have a good squad, and the objective is to win and win, because there are no transitional seasons. We have a squad to fight for the title." 

Ronald Koeman says referees in Spain send people off "for nothing" after both he and midfielder Frenkie de Jong were dismissed in Barcelona's dire 0-0 draw with Cadiz on Thursday.

Barca's hopes of leaving Andalusia with a much-needed win were dealt a blow when De Jong received a second yellow card in the 65th minute for following through on Alfonso Espino after initially winning the ball. 

The Catalan giants' woes were compounded deep into stoppage time when Koeman was also ejected for his protestations towards referee Carlos del Cerro Grande.

The stalemate means Barca have now drawn three of their opening five LaLiga games this season to sit seven points adrift of leaders Real Madrid, although Carlo Ancelotti's side have played a game more. 

Koeman's dismissal followed a frantic period that saw two balls in play at the same time, with the Dutchman claiming he was given his marching orders by Cerro Grande for alerting him to the situation. Sergio Busquets was booked for kicking the rogue ball towards the Cadiz player in possession.

"It was not because of nervousness, it was because I told the fourth official that there was a second ball on the field and the referee had to stop the game. Everyone except the referee saw it," he told Movistar.

"They expel you for nothing, in this country they expel you for nothing. I have asked the referee as normal. Attitude? We leave it because it is not my problem."

 

The goalless draw means Barca have failed to scored in two of their past three games across all competitions – as many as in their previous 41 matches. 

Meanwhile, their tally of eight goals scored at this stage of the season is their worst since the 2003-04 season when they scored just five in their opening five matches. 

Koeman's future has been the subject of intense speculation in recent weeks and the Dutchman is aware that is unlikely to subside in the coming days.

"I do not talk about my personal situation," he added. "It seems that if I win I continue and if I lose the club has to find another coach. It is for you [to talk about].

"The president [Joan Laporta] was at the hotel, and we greeted each other shortly before leaving. Surely there will be more days to talk about this issue if the club wants to talk."

Barca are next in action against Levante at Camp Nou on Sunday. 

The pressure on Ronald Koeman intensified after his 10-man Barcelona side were held to a dire 0-0 draw by Cadiz at Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla on Thursday.

Speculation about the Dutchman's future has been rife following a slow start to the LaLiga campaign that had seen Barca drop points to Athletic Bilbao and Granada in their opening four games, while also losing 3-0 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Things did not get much better for the Catalan giants in Andalusia as Cadiz comfortably kept them at bay, with their misery compounded midway through the second half when Frenkie de Jong saw red for two bookable offences.

Koeman was also dismissed in the closing seconds for his protests during a frantic finish.

A point did at least move Barcelona up to seventh – seven points behind leaders Real Madrid, who have played a game more – while Cadiz climbed to 14th.

While Barca did most of the pressing in the early stages, they did not have a shot on target until the 30th minute, Memphis Depay's weak effort comfortably saved by Jeremias Ledesma.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen pawed away Alvaro Negredo's audacious 25-yard effort immediately after half-time, while Depay miskicked with the goal at his mercy at the other end.

Ledesma pushed away Depay's drive from outside the penalty area, before Barca's hopes of getting a positive result were dealt a blow in the 65th minute when De Jong received a second yellow card for following through on Alfonso Espino after initially winning the ball. 

Salvi Sanchez squandered a glorious opportunity inside the final 10 minutes, firing against Ter Stegen after being played in by Espino, with the ball bouncing behind off Ruben Sobrino.

Depay then had an even better chance to steal all three points for the visitors deep into stoppage time, as the Netherlands international clipped narrowly wide after a marauding Gerard Pique carried Barca forward.

What does it mean? Koeman's time could be up

Speaking ahead of the match, Barca president Joan Laporta insisted Koeman's job did not depend on the outcome of the result, but he did warn that "if decisions have to be taken, we will take them".

That decision may well be nearing after another woeful display from a Barca side desperately short of ideas, pace and attacking threat. Their task was made harder by the dismissal of De Jong, though they scarcely looked like scoring when they had their full complement of players. 

Busquets quality still on show

While many at Barca are seemingly losing their heads, Sergio Busquets continues to be a reliably serene presence at the base of the midfield. The Spain international made more successful passes (77) than any player on the pitch, while he gained possession eight times – a total not bettered by any Barca player.

Demir fails to shine

Yusuf Demir struggled on just his second start for Barca. It was little surprise to see the 18-year-old brought off at half-time after an opening 45 minutes that did not herald a single shot or key pass.

What's next?

Both sides are in action again on Sunday, with Barca hosting Levante at what could be a hostile Camp Nou and Cadiz travelling to Rayo Vallecano.

The pressure on Ronald Koeman intensified after his 10-man Barcelona side were held to a dire 0-0 draw by Cadiz at Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla on Thursday.

Speculation about the Dutchman's future has been rife following a slow start to the LaLiga campaign that had seen Barca drop points to Athletic Bilbao and Granada in their opening four games, while also losing 3-0 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Things did not get much better for the Catalan giants in Andalusia as Cadiz comfortably kept them at bay, with their misery compounded midway through the second half when Frenkie de Jong saw red for two bookable offences.

A point did at least move Barcelona up to seventh – seven points behind leaders Real Madrid, who have played a game more – while Cadiz climbed to 14th.

While Barca did most of the pressing in the early stages, they did not have a shot on target until the 30th minute, Memphis Depay's weak effort comfortably saved by Jeremias Ledesma.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen pawed away Alvaro Negredo's audacious 25-yard effort immediately after half-time, while Depay miskicked with the goal at his mercy at the other end.

Ledesma pushed away Depay's drive from outside the penalty area, before Barca's hopes of getting a positive result were dealt a blow in the 65th minute when De Jong received a second yellow card for following through on Alfonso Espino after initially winning the ball. 

Salvi Sanchez squandered a glorious opportunity inside the final 10 minutes, firing against Ter Stegen after being played in by Espino, with the ball bouncing behind off Ruben Sobrino.

Depay then had an even better chance to steal all three points for the visitors deep into stoppage time, as the Netherlands international clipped narrowly wide after a marauding Gerard Pique carried Barca forward.

Ronald Koeman's job as Barcelona head coach does not depend on the outcome of Thursday's meeting with Cadiz, but president Joan Laporta has warned that "if decisions have to be taken, we will take them".

The Dutchman is under growing pressure following a slow start to the campaign that has seen Barca drop points to Athletic Bilbao and Granada in their opening four LaLiga games, while also losing 3-0 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Amid reports Barca are lining up replacements for Koeman, with Belgium boss Roberto Martinez supposedly among the candidates, Koeman refused to answer any questions from reporters at Wednesday's news conference previewing the trip to Cadiz.

Koeman instead chose to read a prepared statement in which he urged Barca fans to have patience with the process while claiming the club's hierarchy – including Laporta – was fully behind him.

There have even been suggestions in the Spanish press that Thursday's clash at Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla could be the 58-year-old's last in charge should Barca fail to pick up all three points.

While Laporta insisted that is not the case, the Barca chief fell short of guaranteeing that the former Netherlands boss will remain in charge further down the line if results do not pick up.

"Koeman's future doesn't depend on the result tonight," he told El Chiringuito outside the Barcelona team hotel on Thursday. "We are with the coach. He's Barca's first team coach and what we want is for things to go well.

"All coaches, not just Koeman, depend on results, and in Barca's case on their style of play. Koeman is our coach and we're with him today."

 

Barcelona have failed to win five of their last eight LaLiga games stretching back into last season, as many as in their previous 24 matches in the competition, and are eighth in the table ahead of their game in hand.

Koeman this week spoke out in the Dutch media about the wider issues at Camp Nou and how Lionel Messi, who departed for Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer last month, papered over the cracks with his individual brilliance.

But Laporta does not want to use Messi's shock departure, plus the subsequent exit of Antoine Griezmann, as an excuse for Barca's disappointing run of results.

"We see that the team isn't working as we all were hoping," Laporta said. "In that sense, we'll act thinking always of Barcelona... If decisions have to be taken, we'll take them.

"What I don't like is a conformist attitude, a certain defeatism, that can't be allowed at Barcelona. We have the team we have, but we can aspire to win LaLiga and the players say to me that we have to be optimistic.

"We have to work, we have to fight every day, because I believe you achieve success with daily work. Less talking and more doing, more working."

Barcelona have failed to win their last two LaLiga games against Cadiz (D1 L1). If they fail to win Thursday's match, it will be their longest winless run against the Andalusian side in the competition.

Lionel Messi was like a "tyrant" in training and helped to "disguise everything" wrong at Barcelona in recent years, according to head coach Ronald Koeman.

Barca were left without their talisman in August when Messi departed for Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer after they were unable to fulfil a new contract that had been agreed with the superstar forward.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner scored 672 goals and assisted 265 more across 778 appearances during a trophy-laden 17-season spell at Camp Nou.

Koeman's side have made a slow start to the post-Messi era, having dropped points to Athletic Bilbao and Granada in their first four LaLiga games and lost 3-0 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

And with his job reportedly under threat amid speculation Barca are ready to move for Roberto Martinez, Koeman accepts Messi's performances papered over the cracks for too long.

"Lionel Messi disguised everything. He was so good and he won," Koeman told Voetbal International. "Of course he had good players around him, but he made the difference.

"Everyone seems better than they are because of him. This is not a criticism, but an observation. I knew how good he is, but it's still nice to see it up close every day.

"Everything you would like to teach a football player, in recognising situations, in taking the ball under pressure, in ball speed, in finishing; with Messi everything is a 10. Not normal, not normal!

 

"When we did a finishing practice during training, there were sometimes players who started to hit easy balls, a bit of fooling around. But with Messi everything was: boom, boom, boom, boom.

"Never frills, everything functional. And he always wanted to win everything. We always play a rondo before training. If the ball goes around 20 times, then the players in the middle must have an extra turn.

"If that happens three times in a row, the players will form two lines and the two who were in the middle then walk through and get taps on their heads and such.

"I asked Messi if it had happened to him once. 'Yes, once,' he said. In all those years. With him, the older players never lost an exercise against the young. It happened once and Messi was seriously angry about that for a week. Really, a tyrant."

Messi failed in an attempt to force through a move away from Barcelona last year and went on to score 38 goals in 47 games last season – 18 goals more than Barca's next-highest scorer Antoine Griezmann, who has also departed the club.

That includes 30 goals in LaLiga, which was an increase on the 25 managed in the season before Koeman arrived.

Koeman fears Messi's departure could have a major knock-on effect, with the standards of some players – fellow academy graduate Ansu Fati among them – slipping since Messi signed for PSG.

"He delivered 50 goals last year: 30 goals, 20 assists. He was an example for others," Koeman said. "When we won the cup, Messi had won so many trophies, bigger than this one, but you saw that the Copa del Rey really did something for him this time. 

"With those young players in there, he saw the future of the club. All those guys wanted to take a picture with him, I've never seen anything like it. That's how big he was and is. It was a shock to the whole town that he's not here now."

 

Koeman added: "The performance with Messi is perfect. We now sometimes do a pass and kick practices, where you had to shoot the ball into a small goal, around a post. 

"The other day I saw Ansu Fati shoot three metres wide, simply due to lack of concentration. But he wouldn't have done that if Messi had still been there. Then, he got set right, Messi became furious. That never happened to [Messi].

"I have never met anyone except Johan Cruyff with his football intelligence. Alfred [Schreuder, Koeman's assistant] sometimes explained the exercises in English and Messi does not speak that very well. But after a few seconds he knew it."

Despite his job being under threat ahead of Thursday's trip to Cadiz, Koeman stands by his decision to step down as Netherlands boss in August 2020 to take over at Camp Nou.

"I do not regret signing for Barcelona and leaving the Dutch team," he said. "It's in situations like these that I get the best out of myself and my team."

Ronald Koeman did not answer questions at Barcelona's news conference on Wednesday, instead reading out a pre-prepared statement.

Barca were held to a 1-1 draw by Granada at Camp Nou on Monday, with Koeman's team resorting to desperate measures to rescue a point courtesy of centre-back Ronald Araujo.

With Lionel Messi having left due to Barca's dire financial circumstances, the Blaugrana also allowed Antoine Griezmann to rejoin Atletico Madrid late in August and look far off mounting a title challenge in LaLiga this season.

They also lost their opening Champions League match, going down 3-0 to Bayern Munich.

Koeman seems to be under mounting pressure, with president Joan Laporta reportedly keen to replace the Dutchman. Roberto Martinez has been touted as a potential replacement.

However, reports suggest Koeman would be set for a large pay-off should he be dismissed, casting doubt over Barca's ability to change coach.

Koeman was set to face the media on Wednesday ahead of Thursday's league meeting with Cadiz, yet instead he refused to answer questions and read from a statement, urging Barca fans to have patience with the process and insisting the club's hierarchy was behind him.

"Good morning everyone, the club is with me in a situation of rebuilding," Koeman said. 

"The financial situation of the club is linked to the sporting activities and vice versa, this means that we have to rebuild the team without being able to make any big financial investments.

"This needs time, the young talent today can end up being the next big stars in just the next few years. The good thing is that young people will be able to have opportunities like Xavi and [Andres] Iniesta had in their day, but we must ask for patience.

"What's more, to remain in a high ranking in LaLiga it would be a success, this is a great footballing school for this talent.

"In the Champions League you cannot expect miracles. The defeat against Bayern Munich must be taken from this perspective. 

"The process that we're in right now, the staff deserves unconditional support in words and in actions. I know the press recognise this process, it's not the first time in Barcelona's history that this has happened.

"We count on your support in these difficult times, we as a squad and players are very happy with the support we had from the fans like we had against Granada."

Heading into Thursday's match, Barca have failed to win five of their last eight LaLiga games (W3 D4 L1), as many as in their previous 24 matches in the competition (W19 D3 L2).

They also have poor recent history against Cadiz, failing to win in their last two LaLiga games against the Andalusian side (D1 L1). If they do not win this match, it will be their longest winless run against them in the competition.

Carlo Ancelotti sympathised with Ronald Koeman's poor start at Barcelona as Real Madrid prepare for the visit of Real Mallorca on Wednesday.

Madrid left it late against Valencia last time out, scoring twice in three minutes to win 2-1 and extend their unbeaten run to 23 LaLiga games.

Meanwhile, Barcelona have only won twice in the Spanish top flight so far, most recently being held to a 1-1 draw by strugglers Granada on Monday.

Reports from Spain on Tuesday suggest that Barca are considering sacking Koeman and replacing him with Belgium boss Roberto Martinez.

However, Ancelotti warned that teams will always go through difficult periods, with his side included in the anecdote despite their impressive 13-point haul from five games this term.

"You always have problems, now everything goes well for us, but surely problems will come to us," Ancelotti responded when asked about Koeman's difficulties.

"And a coach should focus on solving problems when they come.

"If we are able to maintain this attitude and with the quality that the team has, we will move forward. The spirit is the most important lately because we have always fought to the end.

"Winning comes first but if you play well you have a better chance of winning. But what does it mean to play well? For me the key is balance, playing well with or without the ball."

Los Blancos could record their best start to a league campaign since 2013-14 – also under Ancelotti – if they beat Mallorca, who have lost more top-flight games against Madrid than any other opponent (37).

But Ancelotti refused to be drawn on questions of how his side compares to his previous team from his first tenure in Spain's capital.

"I must take into account the characteristics of these players, different from those of 2014, learn and try to put them in a good position on the field," he continued.

"That's the job. At the club they know me well and we're having a good time now I think.

"It is very good, it is a honeymoon for me. We will live good times and bad times but I will never lose the respect that I have for this club.

"And the same way backwards. Difficult times will come but we will have a good time, just as it happened in my first stage here."

Ronald Koeman explained Granada's early goal and the limited resources at his disposal meant Barcelona could not play 'tiki-taka' as they battled to a draw on Monday. 

In their first match since going down 3-0 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, Barca narrowly avoided suffering another home defeat. 

Domingos Duarte headed a second-minute opener for Granada, chasing their second straight Camp Nou win after 24 straight losses, and the Blaugrana had to wait until the final seconds of normal time to respond. 

Ronald Araujo got the leveller with a header of his own, coming from one of 54 Barca crosses. 

Since the 2005-06 season, the Catalan side have only once registered more crosses in a match, sending in 55 in a goalless draw against Malaga in November 2016. 

Sergino Dest and Memphis Depay each delivered 16 crosses, a tally topped only by Dani Alves (on five occasions) and Neymar (in the Malaga game) among Barca players in that period. 

In the same time span, no other Barca player can match Araujo's five headed attempts in a league game. 

It was a far cry from the passing patterns Pep Guardiola's team used to produce, but under-fire coach Koeman, who refused to discuss his future after the match, felt Barca had little other option in pursuit of an equaliser. 

"Our bad start made it very difficult for us," Koeman said. "It was a play with two or three previous actions that we have not played well, then the cross and the goal have arrived. 

"You face a team that is going to waste time from minute one, that is going to defend more and without spaces. It is all more difficult. 

 

"The space was on the wings, not inside. Our basic system is 4-3-3 and that's how we played in the first half, then with [Philippe] Coutinho behind and Memphis on the left. 

"But the Barca of today is not the Barca of eight years ago. It's not the game we want, but we lack players for one-on-one situations. Coutinho and [Yusuf] Demir go more inside. 

"With Ansu [Fati] and [Ousmane] Dembele we would have [these players], but they are not here and we have to look for other ways to attack, such as playing more on the outside and crossing. 

"If you see the team sheet, what else should be done? Play 'tiki-taka' if there is no space? 

"We didn't want to play like this at the start of the game, but it wasn't easy to play short and we don't have players with speed on the wing. 

"There was no room on the inside, but there was room on the outside for Dest and Memphis to cross on the left and [Oscar] Mingueza [nine crosses off the bench] on the right. 

"In the end, we were able to draw at a time when we were good at squeezing the opponent. But we have lost two points." 

Despite outlining their deficiencies, Koeman praised his players, adding: "We must highlight the attitude. 

"People leave unhappy because we don't win, but not because of the attitude. I want to highlight the energy we put into winning a point. We have had dedication and the support of our people, who have encouraged us and to whom I thank. 

"We deserved the draw and with a bit of luck we were able to win. And that also has to be seen. You have to highlight the ambition to want to win." 

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman has no regrets over his decision to take charge at Camp Nou.

Koeman left his role in charge of the Netherlands to return to Barca – where he established himself as a club great as a player – as coach in 2020, following Quique Setien's dismissal

The Dutchman's time at the helm has not gone smoothly, with Barca's financial difficulties making the job even more complicated.

President Joan Laporta was said to be uncertain on keeping Koeman when he took over earlier in 2021, while Barca's squad has been significantly dented by the departure of Lionel Messi in August, while Antoine Griezmann also left late in the window.

Koeman does have Memphis Depay at his disposal, with the duo having previously worked together with the Netherlands, and the former Lyon forward has made a strong start to life in LaLiga.

With Barca labouring to a third-place finish last term, Laporta subsequently started a search for a replacement for Koeman, only to stick with the 58-year-old.

Koeman, who said to NOS some of his president's previous comments were "not wise" and claimed he was "the future of Barcelona", stated prior to Tuesday's Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich that there were no issues between himself and Laporta.

Ahead of Monday's meeting with Granada, Koeman reiterated that, despite the difficulties he faces, he does not regret taking up the job and has no concerns over his future.

"I do not regret coming. It is a complicated situation for me, the club and the fans," Koeman told a news conference.

 

"We lack things. We all want the best for the club. I knew it and wanted to come. But I did not expect this situation, with the economic problems, but I fight and I want to be here and I want to win.

"I don't know anything [about my future]. I only think about the game and the team. The rest is not in my hands.

"I am calm and confident of winning games. We have to recover to have more players available, but I know that we have to win, it is only the results that count.

"I am not afraid for my future. The club decides."

Asked if he feels there is a campaign against him, Koeman said: "I don't feel that way, but everyone has the right to have a say and be for or against me. This cannot be helped."

Barca sit ninth on seven points, but remain unbeaten in their three LaLiga games so far this term. Should they win or draw Monday's game, they will have their highest point total from their first four matches of a league campaign since 2018-19.

History is also on Barca's side. At home, they have won 24 of their 25 matches against Granada in LaLiga, with the only exception coming in their loss in their last meeting at Camp Nou in the competition in April.

Ronald Koeman claimed he has no issues with Barcelona president Joan Laporta after suggestions of a fractured relationship between the pair.

Barca limped to a third-place finish last term in LaLiga – seven points behind champions Atletico Madrid – and were knocked out in the last-16 stages of the Champions League by Paris Saint-Germain.

Laporta subsequently undertook a managerial replacement search in June before deciding to stick with Koeman, who said to NOS some of his president's previous comments were "not wise".

However, ahead of the Champions League clash with Bayern Munich on Tuesday, the Catalan club's head coach offered assurances on his relationship with Laporta.

"Our relationship is good," Koeman told Monday's pre-match news conference. "If there are things, we talk about them.

"We want the best of the club, which is always the most important thing.

"I don't have a problem with the president and we talk about things about the club, a perfect relationship for me. We've had little things, but we're fine."

Koeman, who lost Blaugrana legend Lionel Messi from his squad in August to PSG amid financial complications with LaLiga, has afforded numerous youngsters an opportunity in the opening games.

Indeed, Barca have utilised the most Under-21 players among Spanish top-flight squads so far (eight) as Koeman feels this is his best option with all the financial issues surrounding the club.

"The only thing I have said is that I am a coach who gives opportunities to young players," Koeman responded when asked about his NOS interview.

"You never know if another coach will give as many opportunities as we do. I am a coach and I seek the best for the club.

"We know it is a complicated situation, but we are improving things and one of these is giving opportunities to young people, who are the future of the club."

And after suggesting the club had a future thanks to his work, Koeman backtracked on his comments slightly: "My future is not important, the future of the club and the team is important. Tomorrow we have an opportunity to compete.

"Being a Barcelona coach is winning games and we are at a time when we have to work."

Ronald Koeman insists his work has been paramount in saving Barcelona, but his relationship with club president Joan Laporta is yet to fully recover.

The Catalan club underwhelmed in Koeman's first term last campaign, finishing third – seven points behind champions Atletico Madrid – in LaLiga and exiting at the Champions League's last-16 stage to Paris Saint-Germain.

Barca's problems were further compounded in August, amid financial difficulties and complications with LaLiga, when Blaugrana legend Lionel Messi departed on a free and several players had to take pay cuts to allow registration of new signings.

However, despite Koeman's seemingly fragile relationship with Laporta, who went on an unsuccessful managerial replacement search in June, the Dutchman is enjoying his time at Camp Nou as he looks ahead to a potential new contract.

"It has improved a bit [the relationship with Laporta]," Koeman told NOS. "But when you let things blow a bit as a club and are not clear about the future of a coach, then you get speculation.

"And if you are the one who is the coach, then that is not a nice case.

"Last week there was also something in the media, which I think was not right. That again suggests that the trainer does not have full power.

"He said a little too much. That can be done in private. I like it when a president is committed and also asks questions. Only that it should not be in the press, that was the problem.

"Laporta was not wise on two occasions, let me put it this way. We are also in contact about a new contract now. Thanks to me, this club has a future.

"I see a lot of potential. I am open to stay here, I am enjoying myself here."

Koeman's new-look team, in the absence of Messi, have picked up seven points from their first three matches, with Barca utilising the most under-21 players in their Spanish top-flight matchday squads so far (eight).

Indeed, the former Netherlands manager revealed academy products will always get chances under his stewardship as he warned Barca's financial struggles will have a knock-on impact on their competitiveness in Europe.

"It's not just Pedri," Koeman continued. "There are still four or five players aged 18 or 19 who will be fantastic players for this club in three or four years.

"Accepting things and not being able to do things that maybe they [the club] should. That's the moment. Focus on the youth and give them a chance.

"Barcelona is in debt and therefore has to deal with fair play in Spain. The best players cannot come to Barcelona because they have higher contracts and cost a lot of money, which the club does not have.

"Sportingly, this club will always be good. The question is, can you get back to the level where you will really win Champions Leagues and be the best in Spain for years in a row? That is not the case at the moment. Let's hope that it will come again."

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