August 19 – Ronald Koeman has quit as boss of the Netherlands to become the new head coach of Barcelona two days after the club sacked Quique Setien following that humiliating 8-2 Champions League drubbing by Bayern Munich that stunned world football.
The 57-year-old left his role with two years left on his contract at his national team to sign a two-year deal with the Spanish giants. But will he be the right man to steady the Barca ship?
Koeman has a special relationship with the Barca fans having played for the club between 1989 and 1995, helping them to four league titles and the old European Cup.
But Barca finished second in La Liga last season, failing to win a trophy for the first time since 2007-08, amid calls for a root and branch overhaul.
The club has also announced Ramon Planes as the new technical director. He was the assistant to Eric Abidal, who left his role as sporting director on Tuesday.
Immediately after Koeman’s appointment, Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu said Lionel Messi would remain the “pillar of our project” despite reports that the Argentine superstar has asked to leave.
Just before Koeman’s appointment Bartomeu told Barcelona’s website: “We already know how he thinks and his philosophy. It’s a dream for him. As he was in Johan’s ‘Dream Team’, he knows Barca and how we understand football.”
As for Messi, Bartomeu added: “He has a contract until 2021. He is No 1 in the world. There is no doubt that in Koeman’s new project you can count on Messi.”
Barca are keen to cut their wage bill – the highest in world football – and with a rebuilding project now needed, there are currently no funds available according to Spanish experts.
Koeman is highly experienced and has managed a string of Dutch and English top-flight clubs with varying degrees of success. Whether he will be able to rise to the challenge and bring about the required Barca revolution on and off the field must be debatable. He is due to speak to the media at his unveiling later today.
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