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Lionel Messi and Philippe Coutinho handed new roles in Koeman's Barcelona side


Barcelona have had a hectic off-season – now it is time to get back to playing football.

New manager Ronald Koeman will have Lionel Messi at his disposal after his summer transfer saga ended with him retracting his demand for a move.

It is also looking increasingly certain Philippe Coutinho will stick around, too with the Brazilian back from his loan spell at Bayern Munich with a shortage of potential suitors.

The two lined up together in Koeman’s latest starting line-up against Girona, as did Antoine Griezmann.

And with striker Luis Suarez still in the process of trying to arrange a Juventus transfer exit, the trio were given intriguing new roles.

Lionel Messi was restored to an old ‘false nine’ role by Ronald Koeman

Messi was restored to a ‘false nine’ role by Koeman, a position he played regularly and was arguably at his best under Pep Guardiola.

The arrival of Luis Suarez saw him moved around but he was back in central role dropping deep as he bagged twice including a stunning strike against Girona.

Messi also created Philippe Coutinho’s opener with a fine through ball, with Coutinho slotting into an empty net at the back post.

Messi scored twice before being subbed against Girona

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That strike came with Coutinho playing on the left flank having generally been used either centrally or on the right in the past.

And Griezmann was dropped back into a deeper midfield role in the centre of a 4-2-3-1 formation in a fascinating sign of what could be to come under the Dutch coach.

Speaking about his selection after the game, which his side won 3-1, Koeman explained: “I always try to put the best attack possible.

Philippe Coutinho also got on the scoresheet

“ We have several players who can play in different positions and that is a very good option.

“Coutinho can play on the left wing and fall through the centre.

“Griezmann can play on the wings, in the midfielder and up front, and Messi can start from the right, play further back or further forward in attack. There are many options.”





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