The Dutchman replaced Quique Setien at the helm of the Blaugrana.
On Wednesday, La Liga giants FC Barcelona announced the appointment of Ronald Koeman as their new manager. The former FC Barcelona defender has replaced Quique Setien as the manager, following the end of the latter’s disappointing tenure at Camp Nou.
As the Catalans are now looking to rebuild under their new boss Ronald Koeman, the Dutchman will have implement several changes in the club. The tactics needs a fresh touch, transfer policies and discipline needs an overhaul at the club – all which needs to come from the new manager.
Here are some of the principal changes to expect from Ronald Koeman at FC Barcelona.
5. Building a team around Frenkie de Jong
Before accepting his latest assignment with FC Barcelona, Ronald Koeman was the head coach of the Netherlands national team. The 57-year-old knows Frenkie de Jong well, having handed him over ten international caps since his debut in September 2018. The 23-year-old was an integral part of the plans of Ronald Koeman with the Dutch team, which is why he is expected to continue working with the same policy at FC Barcelona next season.
In fact, Koeman had even rushed to the support of the midfielder earlier in the 2019-20 season, claiming that his role at the club was not what is best suited for him. “With the national team, he [de Jong] players deeper but we play with two holding midfielders and Barcelona only play with one and two central midfielders, or sometimes with four central midfielders. The position he is playing now is different from the national team and Ajax. He’s learning to play further forward like this, it’s not all bad, but it’s not his best position. For me, I think he performs better playing deeper,” Marca quoted Koeman as saying, in March.
This, in turn, leads to the speculation that de Jong can play an influential role at the club next season.
4. Older stars could be pushed towards exit
Another strong rumour that is doing the rounds in and around Barcelona, is connected to the club’s senior stars like Luis Suarez, Arturo Vidal, Jordi Alba, Ivan Rakitic, Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets among others. According to various sources, some of these players will have a tough time convincing Koeman that they are worth counting on.
Suarez is already tipped to wind down his career at Ajax, while Vidal, Alba, and Busquets may also be on their way out soon enough. Speaking immediately after the shocking loss against Bayern, Pique himself had also expressed willingness to leave, if that is what it will take for the club to bring in new players. “The club needs changes. Structurally we need changes of all kinds and the first one to volunteer [to leave] will be me, if new blood has to come in and change this dynamic,” the 2010 FIFA World Cup winner had said.
3. Integration of youngsters into the first team
Barcelona is one club that has the blessings of a world-class academy, with several of their young stars like Ilaix Moriba, Xavier Mbuyamba and Konrad de la Fuente rising up the ranks after creating a huge impact at various age groups. The likes of Monchu, Juan Miranda, Alex Collado, Ansu Fati, Ronald Araujo, Francisco Trincao and Pedri are some other examples that prove the point, and some of these youngsters can be expected at the Spanish top-flight next season.
Setien was hardly able to integrate Barcelona’s rising youngsters and B-team players into their first team, and that adversely affected the club’s fortunes especially when the league resumed. Under Ronald Koeman, this can be expected to change at FC Barcelona as the tactician is a widely known supporter of young talents.
With several senior players expected to leave the club, this could be also one of his solutions to tackle Barca’s unprecedented financial crisis, which happened as a result of the global pandemic.
2. New signings, especially from the Netherlands
Free up millions of euros from the wage bill by selling unwanted players, freshen up the squad with whatever money can be salvaged, restore the playing style – Ronald Koeman’s objectives at FC Barcelona are quite daunting to say the least.
Although Koeman is not exactly an avowed Cruyffist in terms of his tactical shape, he is still well aware of his teachings and also shares his mentor’s passion for bringing young players. Wherever he has gone, the Dutchman has trusted and placed faith in youth – and after the reign of a coach who seemed less interested in using youngsters, Koeman will be a breath of fresh air in the regard.
Valencia’s Jose Gaya and Ajax’s Donny Van de Beek are already rumoured to sign for the Catalans this summer, while Philippe Coutinho is expected to return from his loan at Bayern Munich. Altogether, Ronald Koeman can be expected to make a bunch of new signings at FC Barcelona – and given that he is from the Netherlands, it will not be surprising if at least a few of them are from his home country.
1. Dealing with Messi and extending his stay
In what has been described as a relief for FC Barcelona fans, Ronald Koeman has also clarified that he will have a chat with the club’s talisman Lionel Messi and coax him to stay, despite rumours suggesting that he is so disappointed with his team’s recent performances that he wants to leave for good.
“I don’t know if I have to convince Messi or not,” Koeman said on Wednesday. “You want to have the best in the world in your team, not the opposite.”
“I want to work with Messi. He wins you games and, if he provides the performances he has always shown, I’ll be happy if he wants to stay. I have to talk to him because he is the captain of the team. For now, he has one more year on his contract and is a Barca player – and I want him in my team,” the Dutchman added.
Needless to say, the Argentine was Barca’s silver lining yet again in the 2019-20 campaign, scoring 25 goals and registering 21 assists.