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Barcelona boss Koeman singles young American De La Fuente in friendly win

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Ronald Koeman said he was particularly impressed with US youth international Konrad de la Fuente as Barcelona continued their preparations for the new season by beating Girona 3-1 on Wednesday.

Lionel Messi has scored twice – his first goals for the club since trying to leave last month – and Philippe Coutinho was also on target as Barca had two wins in two friendlies under Koeman.

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The Barca boss used the game to take a more in-depth look at a number of youngsters who have been involved in the first team during the pre-season, including Konrad, Pedri and Riqui Puig.

“We know we have some really good young players here,” Koeman said at a post-match press conference. “The important thing is to train at a good level and then integrate it into these friendly matches.

“If I had to highlight one of the youngsters I would say Konrad, I’m really happy with him. But we also have Pedri, Riqui. We have a bright future ahead of us.”

Konrad, 19, became the first American player to play for Barca in Saturday’s win over Gimnastic Tarragona. He had a goal wrongly disallowed for offside in a 45-minute cameo.

The American winger entered for the final half hour against Girona, replacing Coutinho to the left of the attack. His pace caused second division problems and he created a great chance for Pedri, who was denied by a brilliant save from Jose Suarez.

The Miami native, who signed a new Camp Nou contract earlier this summer, is expected to be with the B squad this season in Spain’s third division, although his preseason performances haven’t hurt his chances. in the first team.

Coutinho is another player with a good preseason. The Brazilian has scored in each of his two appearances so far and will have a second chance at the club under Koeman after a year on loan at Bayern Munich.

Young American Konrad de la Fuente, right, fights for the ball in a friendly against Gimnastic on September 12. Getty Images

“Coutinho is doing very well,” Koeman said of Barca’s record signing. “I think he feels good, he’s training and playing well. He has a lot of quality and we have to keep that in mind. All players need the support and help of their coaches.”

Meanwhile, Luis Suarez’s future remains uncertain. He was left out of the squad for the second game in a row and Koeman says he’s still not sure whether the striker will leave the club or not.

“I was speaking with Suarez this morning,” added the Dutch coach. “We are waiting to see if he leaves or not, we still don’t know. We are living up to all the contracts here and, if he does end up staying, he will be part of the squad.”

Barca are next in action when they host Elche in their last friendly before the season on Saturday. Their La Liga campaign begins the following weekend with a home game against Unai Emery’s Villarreal.

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