Seventeen minutes. This is what the 2020/21 season of Matheus Fernandes (22 years old) comes down to under the FC Barcelona tunic. Apart from these few minutes of play on the lawn of Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League in November 2020 (0-4), the midfielder has never appeared again with the Blaugrana jersey. During a long interview with Mundo Deportivo, the young Brazilian, arrived from Palmeiras in January 2020 (he had been loaned in stride to Valladolid until the end of last season), emptied his bag, pointing the finger at Ronald Koeman.
“I ask myself the same question. Why ? I do not know. During the preparation, I started to play a little more. The coach told me that I wouldn’t have a lot of opportunities, but at least a few. I only played 17 minutes and I don’t understand why, because there have been games that I could have played quietly, like other players have. I don’t know what’s going on in the coach’s head, I think the two of us could have talked more, but he didn’t speak much to me ”, he blurted out before continuing.
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A more than strange relationship with Koeman
“Before the start of the season, he had already told management that he was not counting on me, that I could leave. And me, I was wondering: “but how can he say that when he does not know me either as a person or as a player. I think he must first see how I play”. Sometimes you think something and then you change your mind during the season. He told management that, but he didn’t speak with me and I would have liked to know what he thought to know what career project I could look for ”, he said.
To be fixed, the Auriverde sought an explanation from the Dutch coach. “One day I went to talk to him and he told me that he wasn’t counting on me, that I could leave if I found a good club for me, but that I had to play. I did not find a team because I am very young and I had just arrived, I asked him to give me playing time to be able to find a team for next season, but he did not gave nothing. It was very strange ”, he launched, recounting another interview with the Batavian.
“A month after my only appearance (in December), I was in his office and I asked him, ‘Coach, why don’t I have more playing time? Did I play badly?’ He replied: “No, you played well, but I cannot make you play, because I do not count on you, you do not have the qualities to play for Barça”. I told him that if he didn’t play me, he couldn’t see if I was qualified for it. I told him that if leaders recruited me, it is because I have qualities. There must be something else “, he insinuated, not knowing if he is the victim of a cabal against his agent, André Cury, whose relations are strained with the club.
His daily life at Barça was also very strange, as he says. “It was a bit difficult to live with because I came with the hope of playing, of growing as a player, as a person, but something strange happened to me. I don’t play, I don’t have any opportunities to show myself, I’m always out of the squad, I’ve trained in positions that are not mine, right-back or center-back sometimes. Worse, there are a few workouts where I was just doing finalizing exercises. There were days when I wasn’t training, I would stay away to do shooting drills, I would just warm up, shoot on goal, but I wasn’t with the squad. The days before matches, for the tactical setups, I was hardly with the group ”, he related.
A very uncertain future …
“I always thought it was personal, because he doesn’t talk to me, whatever I do … For me, it’s personal”, he summed up about his technician, whose future is pending these days. Under contract until June 2025 with a release clause set at € 300 million, the Carioca does not know what its future will be. “I don’t know anything, the season is over, I’m going on vacation and I don’t say anything else. For me, nothing new. My desires ? I don’t know, I’m waiting for the club to tell me something, whether or not it is counting on me to be able to look for something ”, he said before adding.
“I also discuss with my agent so that everything is done well. It could be that the season starts and I’m told, we’re not counting on you, so where am I going? I hope we can sit down and talk and know where I’m going. (…) For me, the best solution is to stay here, but I don’t know what the club thinks. If I am told to go and play, I will ”, he assured before concluding. “There is still some positive, I’m here at Barça, my childhood dream. During this bad time, I said to myself: “I cannot lower my head, I am at Barça” “. We have known a sweeter dream …