BARCELONA, Sept 17 — Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has said Luis Suarez will be treated like any other player if he ends up staying at the club this season, despite leaving the Uruguayan striker out of the squad for the second match in a row.
Suarez, Barca’s third top scorer of all time, has one year left on his contract, was omitted from the squad for Wednesday’s 3-1 friendly win over Girona.
One of Koeman’s first acts as Barca coach was to tell Suarez he was no longer wanted but offloading the 33-year-old is proving difficult.
Reports in Italy say a planned move to Juventus is off, and with so many clubs reeling from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, few could afford to pay his salary.
“I’ve spoken to him about his future and we are waiting to see whether or not he leaves, we still don’t know,” Koeman told Catalan network TV3 after the win over Girona.
“But we respect every contract here and if in the end he does not find a club and he stays, he will be just like any other player in the squad.”
One player who looks certain to stay at Barca is Philippe Coutinho, who scored for the second game in a row since returning from his loan spell at Bayern Munich.
“He is very motivated right now, he is training well and playing well,” Koeman said of the Brazilian, who has failed to live up to expectations since joining from Liverpool for a club record fee in 2018.
While the La Liga season started on Saturday, Barca are not playing their first competitive game until Sept. 27 due to playing in the Champions League ‘Final Eight’ tournament last month.
They play Elche on Saturday in their final pre-season game before kicking off their league campaign at home to Villarreal.
“We are looking in good shape, the players played 60 minutes today and many will play 90 on Saturday so they are ready for the start of the season,” added Koeman.
“I’m happy with how we played today, with lots of build-up play from the back. It was a good display overall and when the season starts we’ll be at 100 per cent.” — Reuters