FC Barcelona’s two weeks of torment is history after Dutch coach Ronald Koeman (58) was confirmed for next season and Messi (33) gets ready to ink a contract extension.
The manager can now concentrate on what needs to be done ahead of another tumultuous campaign. Barcelona finished La Liga on its knees after collapsing when it mattered most. The Catalonian giants only won the cup this season, adding their domestic season frustrations to an early exit from the Champions League.
As a result, Barca is aiming to recover its aura next season. That’s not just an objective for the club, but a firm commitment. The club’s hierarchy assured Messi that Barca will be on the hunt for silverware at the highest level next season. For Messi, who will also accept a pay cut to continue at Camp Nou, the promise to “refresh” the squad’s mentality and sign a few important players was essential.
‘Koeman stays. We’re very happy with him’
Barcelona’s president, Joan Laporta, revealed that he would have asked Koeman to stay, even if his contract ran out this summer. The Dutchman was under heavy criticism for the way Barcelona ended the season. The Blaugrana finished third despite being in an excellent position to win it with five games before the finale.
“If Ronald didn’t have a year left in his contract, we’d still have reached the same conclusion,” Laporta commented in a press conference.
“The year he has left in his contract wasn’t a condition for us. This board has always believed in Koeman. We spoke a lot lately, but that was just because we wanted to know each other better, know where we failed, and correct our errors. Our conversations were never about his contract because it wasn’t necessary. We are very happy with him,” Laporta assured.
Sources at Barcelona support the official’s words, claiming Koeman was always consulted before the club made moves in the transfer window. All of the summer signings thus far were approved by Koeman and his involvement in all the important team affairs suggests Laporta planned to keep Koeman as team boss next season.
Catalonian paper Sport reported that Laporta’s only express request in his talks with Koeman was that the team return to Johan Cruyff’s philosophy. Laporta wants Barcelona to play in a 4-3-3 formation. Koeman agreed to the move, saying he only used different tactics last season because he didn’t have adequate players.
So far this season, Barcelona signed Sergio Aguero (33) and Eric Garcia (20) on free transfers from Manchester City, and Emerson Royal from Betis. The Brazilian right-back cost Barca $10 million.
The managers’ carousel
Apart from Aguero’s move to Barcelona, this summer has yet to provide any spectacular moves on the transfer front. All of the action seems to have been in the dugouts. Zinedine Zidane left Real Madrid to be replaced by Carlon Ancelotti. The Italian departed Everton after just one full season in charge.
Antonio Conte quit Inter, unhappy with the lack of financial commitments he got from the owners. Lazio’s Simone Inzaghi was appointed by the Italian champions instead. It’s not the only shock of the week in Serie A. Andrea Pirlo was sacked by Juventus to make way for Max Allegri, who returns at the helm of Italy’s biggest team after a two-year sabbatical.