In August Ronald Koeman was announced as the new manager of Barcelona on a two-year contract. The 57-year-old Dutchman, who led Holland to qualification for the postponed Euro 2020 finals, still had two years on his contract with the Dutch national team but the KNVB didn’t stand in the way of the once in a lifetime opportunity. Barcelona was always Koeman’s dream job, but could Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona dream turn out to be a nightmare? Will Ronald Koeman succeed at FC Barcelona or will he be booted out before the season is over?
Ronald Koeman – Barcelona legend
The 1992 European Cup Final was held at Wembley Stadium, London between Sampdoria and Barcelona. The Catalans won the game 1–0 after extra time, thanks to a free-kick from Ronald Koeman, to land the trophy for the first time in their history. Koeman’s extra-time goal was enough to secure a well-deserved win against a defensive Italian team.
With Koeman now head coach at the Catalan club, a Barcelona club legend returns to Spain. More than 30 years after his arrival as a player, Koeman arrives once again as a coach. He will be the fifth Dutch manager to coach FC Barcelona after Rinus Michels, Johan Cruyff, Louis Van Gaal and Frank Rijkaard preceded him. The former Valencia, Southampton and Everton manager is extremely popular among the Barça fans and a club legend. This will give him some credit even if the results are initially bad.
Messi wants to leave FC Barcelona
Koeman’s reign began with the worst possible news as Leo Messi requested that FC Barcelona let him leave the club on a free transfer through a clause in his contract. On August 25th 2020, Barcelona confirmed to the Associated Press “that Messi sent the club a document expressing his desire to leave.” The Argentina captain dropped a bomb that day, communicating to the club his intention to leave this summer.
The clause stated that Messi could leave if he informed the club of his wish to do so before June 10th, the intended end of the season. However, Messi argued that because the end of the season was postponed, so should the clause be. Leo Messi stated that he would never enter a legal dispute with the club so would allow La Liga to make the final decision.
On August 30th, La Liga issued a statement finding in Barcelona’s favour, stating that his contract is still in force and his €700m termination clause is still active. Of course, La Liga want to keep the best player in the world in Spain as it has an influence on the TV rights they negotiate. So it’s good news for Ronald Koeman, Barcelona and La Liga fans in general but not so much for Messi who will have to wait another year.
Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Internazionale are the three clubs most likely to sign the “Greatest of all Time” but it is the Messi Man City rumours which won’t go away. At Manchester City, he would be reunited with his former manager Pep Guardiola, at PSG, with personal friend Neymar and at Inter, he would compete with his biggest rival Cristiano Ronaldo to win the Scudetto, with the Ronaldo stats probably the only figures comparable with Messi’s in world football. When Messi does leave Barcelona, Ronald Koeman has an impossible job on his hands replacing him.
The squad needs rebuilding
Barcelona did not win any prizes last season and require a total rebuild. The humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals showed the weaknesses of the current squad and how far behind they are. Bayern Munich blew Barcelona away in a powerful display making clear that many Barcelona players are past their peak and need to be replaced with younger players, although their football academy is one of the greatest in the world which helps.
Ronald Koeman’s number one assignment at Barcelona is to rebuild the squad. Can players such as Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembélé, Ansu Fati, Marc-André ter Stegen and Frenkie de Jong step up their game and lead the club to success in the coming years? Will the board allow for Ronald Koeman to buy expensive new players?
One thing is certain, Ronald Koeman has not been handed an easy task. However, if he succeeds, he will be an even bigger legend than he already is today.
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