Miralem Pjanic issues damning verdict on Ronald Koeman and opens up on nightmare Barcelona spell

Miralem Pjanic has opened up on his nightmare Barcelona spell having left to join Besiktas on loan.

The midfielder arrived at Camp Nou in 2019 on an inflated swap deal fort Arthur Melo which was viewed much more as an accounting trick than a normal swap deal.

Pjanic signed for Barca for €60million, while Arthur joined Juventus for €72million as part of a deal that allowed both clubs to adjust their books.

The signing itself was complicated and controversial enough, but what followed was even worse for Pjanic.

The 31-year-old, who was a serial winner with Juventus in Italy, also reaching the Champions League, made just 19 league appearances for Barcelona and was frozen out by Ronald Koeman.

He was then marked for sale this summer as Barca attempted to shift dead wood, and in the end, he had to take a pay cut to join Besiktas on loan in a last-minute deal.

And following that move, Pjanic has opened up on his Camp Nou nightmare in a detailed interview with Marca.

“I’m very happy and motivated,” he said of his move. “I arrived in Sarajevo after being presented at Besiktas and everything went well.

“I couldn’t accept a situation like what I had last year. It was clear that I couldn’t do that. I’m a footballer who likes to play, and that’s what makes me happy.”

Reflecting on the Barcelona move, he added: “I was ready to take this step after nine years in Italy, I wanted a challenge and it was the right moment. But then I found a coach that, I don’t know…

“Right now, today, I don’t know what he wanted exactly. He didn’t try to explain things to me or find a solution. I would go to ask him what he wanted from me, positionally or what I was doing well or badly.

Miralem Pjanic of FC Barcelona

“I wanted to adapt as quickly as possible to the team and be useful. You need 17 or 18 players from a squad to win titles. He didn’t have problems with my play and didn’t give me answers.

“Time went on and the situation went from bad to worse, without any reason. Like I said, I was being professional, so this is difficult to understand.

“Many people on the inside didn’t understand it either. Then there was this opportunity to leave and I wanted to listen to that, because I need to play. I know what I can bring to a team, but you need confidence and dialogue and things to be said to your face.

“I’d have preferred things to be said to me directly, but it was what it was. It was a very odd way of communicating and it’s the first time I’ve ever experienced this. I’ve had a very good relationship with all of my coaches.

“I don’t know what happened, I honestly don’t know. He didn’t want responsibility or confrontation, because I guess that couldn’t be handled.”

Asked about any possible reasons why it all went so wrong, Pjanic continued: “It was complicated, and I was also two weeks late because of COVID-19 and with a new coach.

“But my situation was complicated from the beginning. I got there after two weeks away, started to train little by little, alone, to prepare myself to start with my teammates.

“Three, four, seven, 10 days went by and the coach never came to talk about the season, about me, to speak about anything. It was strange, but fine.

“Time passed, I was feeling good and playing, but of course I wanted more. Then there’s a point when I was playing less and things were complicated.

“It was tough physically and mentally and it killed my confidence because I had no communication with him. It was very strange.

“The coach is the one who says who plays and who doesn’t, but there are ways of doing things. I’m a player who can take anything, but I’d like to be told to my face and not as if I’m a 15-year-old.

“I fought until the end, I was always professional with the lads, always working hard, for them too. I knew that if the coach stayed I’d have to find a solution.”

Pjanic clearly didn’t enjoy a good relationship with Koeman, and much of that was down to communication.

Ronald Koeman

“He never told me or asked if I wanted to play as a two or in front of the defence,” the 31-year-old said.

“I reached a Champions League final playing as a double pivot with [Sami] Khedira. I’ve played everywhere, but he never saw me in any of them.

“I didn’t have a position, I got five or 10 minutes, or would warm up for 45 minutes but not play.

“I’ve never had a situation like it and it wasn’t easy. You have to be tough, because sometimes I could have reacted badly to him, but I was always respectful with him and my teammates. He had a cross against me from the beginning. It was hard to accept.”

Pjanic took a pay cut to join Besiktas, doing whatever he could to make sure he is playing football this season.

Asked about the reason he took that pay cut, Pjanic simply said: “I like football.

“The economic side is important, but what I love the most in life, after my son, is playing football.

“I like to be happy, to be with my teammates, everything about football. I’d do these things without any problems, because being happy is the most important thing.”

Tags FC Barcelona Miralem Pjanic Ronald Koeman