Ronald Koeman has one untouchable at Barcelona and it’s not Lionel Messi

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman made it clear that he wasn’t a big fan of rotation when he took charge of the club, and has largely remained true to that philosophy.

That doesn’t mean he hasn’t made changes. Injury, suspension and fatigue, especially in this compressed calendar, has made them impossible to avoid.

Koeman has used 22 players on the pitch so far this season and has only repeated the same starting eleven twice, in consecutive games against Villarreal and Celta Vigo.

There are however, key players that the Dutchman clearly trusts above the others as elucidated by Marca. Number one in this regard, his untouchable, is countryman Frenkie de Jong, who is the only player in the squad to have started every game of the Koeman era.

His ever presence is perhaps in part because of his versatility. De Jong has featured in the double pivot, as a sole pivot and at centre-back, and has played 890 minutes so far this season.

After de Jong, Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, Ansu Fati and Pedri qualify as Koeman’s favourites considering the minutes he’s given them since taking over. All four have participated in every game, although some as a substitute.

Messi has played 855 minutes this season, the 45 absent being from when he sat out the first half against Real Betis due to a knock. Of those preferred four, Busquets and Fati will have to be coped without for the immediate future as both are injured.

At the other end of the spectrum is Martin Braithwaite. The Danish striker has made five appearances for Barcelona this season as a substitute but has played just 38 minutes in total.

Featured image courtesy of FC Barcelona Noticias.

Tags Barcelona Frenkie de Jong La Liga Lionel Messi Ronald Koeman