Former Barcelona defender Junior Firpo has accused manager Ronald Koeman of coming up with excuses not to play him in the run-up to his departure from the club.
Firpo joined Barcelona in the summer of 2019 for in excess of £16m, but he ended up starting just 14 La Liga games in two years, three of which came under Koeman across the entire 2020/21 campaign.
Now with Leeds United, Firpo spoke to Cadena SER about his time in Catalonia and hit out at Koeman for his inability to explain why he wasn’t handing the left-back any minutes.
“I always asked Koeman for explanations, until one day, he started to lie to me,” Firpo said. “At that point, when the coach starts to lie to you and you realise that he doesn’t care about you, why would you keep asking him for explanations?
“He lied to me by telling me things that did not make sense, like I trained badly or that I ‘contaminated’ the group…things like that. Ask any of the players in the squad and they will back me up.
“I don’t know what it means, to contaminate the group. I suppose it would refer to my attitude. I don’t know in what way a young boy who has just arrived at the club is going to contaminate a group that has won everything and has been there all their lives. My opinion would never change their way of training or anything.”
Firpo went on to confess that Koeman’s treatment of him saw his love for the game fade away remarkably quickly.
“There was so much disrespect, not only to me, but to all my team-mates,” Firpo continued. “I will never understand how after a game, when the substitutes train the next day, Koeman would stay in his room while we were training.
“If I have to prove to you that I deserve to play and you don’t tell me how to do that, all I can do is show you in training. When the whole group training, it is more difficult to stand out. We are a big group, we do quick exercises.
“My time to show you that I want to play is the day after the game when the substitutes train hard…and you’re not here.”
Continuing his direct comments to Koeman, Firpo added: “I left Barça because it was something that I had decided for a long time, especially if the coach who was there at that time was going to continue because I never had an explanation.
“Jordi Alba is a great player, a great left-back. Nobody can pretend that the player who is going to rival him for his position is going to play over Jordi Alba. I’m not going to go in and provide 17 assists every year like him. He’s one of the best.
“I understand that you always have to play your best players in important games, but there were so many games in which you could rest and rotate the squad. It happened sometimes and it worked well, but then for some reason, it wasn’t done again.”