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Barça boss Luis Enrique warns Jeremy Mathieu that his performances have to improve

Jeremy Mathieu was guilty of committing several errors in the defeat to Sevilla at the Sanchez Pizjuan. For the first goal, he played them onside, for the second he lost his man. The coaching staff were not impressed and feel he has shown lapses in concentration not befitting of a footballer of his level. They had a word with him, which has since been leaked to the press. 
SPORT has learned that a member of Luis Enrique’s staff has a private chat with Mathieu to analyse his form. In the conversation, the coach transmitted to the French defender that he’s not hitting the levels expected. What’s more, it was made clear that he has to take a step forward on the pitch, or risk being sold in the summer. 
It can’t be doubted that Barça’s defence, especially Marc-Andre ter Stegen, have been the objects of criticism due to the number of goals conceded this season. In public, Luis Enrique’s defended his players, trying to keep the pressure away. Internally, though, things have been managed slightly differently — as is the case with Mathieu. 
It’s not the first time the coaching staff have felt his performances have been irregular. They believe he sometimes disconnects from what is going on too easily. After thinking about what to do with him in the summer, they decided it made sense to stick with him due to the 20 million euros they paid Valencia and the transfer ban. 
During the current season, even though we’re only in October, things have not changed. Mathieu is usually a substitute, but he does start games, too, especially because there have been injuries to Jordi Alba and Thomas Vermaelen — Gerard Pique was also suspended for four games. Mathieu can play at left-back or centre-back. Barça, though, are already thinking of players who could replace him. 
Nobody is going to sentence him yet, but it’s understood Luis Enrique’s patience is waring thin. Mathieu has been key in several games since signing, producing solid performances, displaying good qualities in the air and scoring vital goals. But the list of errors is beginning to override those pros. Mathieu has to buck up his ideas if he doesn’t want to look for a new club. 
The French defender will have another chance, though. The ultimatum is there and it’s up to him to prove himself, once again, to the coaching staff. The team needs him more than ever in the coming weeks, but what happened in Seville cannot happen again. Mathieu is a marked man and his future at the club is on the line. 
Sphamandla Ntshokotsha

Sphamandla Ntshokotsha

Staff writter

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