Ronald Koeman, 58, has a complicated relationship with FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta. The pressure on the Dutchman’s shoulder grows by the day.
After a satisfactory start to their La Liga campaign, Barca got hammered at home by Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Tuesday. The 3-0 defeat has raised question marks over Koeman’s permanence at the club, with Jordi Cruyff being one of the names intensively advanced by the media as a potential successor over the past week.
Jordi Cruyff, 47, is the son of Barca and Netherlands legend Johan Cruyff. Jordi is now a sporting advisor at Barcelona, having previously worked himself as a coach in Israel, China, and Ecuador. He also held a sporting director role at AEK Larnaca in Cyprus and Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel before turning to football management. In his playing days, Cruyff Jr. spent eight years in the FC Barcelona shirt before moving to Manchester United in 1996.
Jordi is close to both Laporta and Koeman but doesn’t want to affect his friendship with the now Barca coach by accepting to replace him.
According to Spanish outlet Marca, Jordi Cruyff is Laporta’s favorite to succeed Koeman.
Ronald Koeman's confidence 📈 pic.twitter.com/z6FkFchEdF
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 13, 2021
Jordi Cruyff: ‘I will never replace Koeman on the bench’
Talking to the newspaper back in July, Cruyff told the Spanish reporters that replacing Koeman would be “ugly”.
“I will never replace Koeman on the bench. It would be ugly and I have principles,” Cruyff Jr. commented.
As a player, Jordi made 54 appearances for Barcelona’s first team, scoring 11 times. He got promoted to senior level by his father Johan, who’s one of the most important people in the history of FC Barcelona. Cruyff’s vision for Barca is still at the heart of many technical decisions taken at the club.
Since starting to coach himself, in 2017, Jordi Cruyff never won a trophy. His most successful stint came at Maccabi Tel Aviv between 2017 and 2018 when the team enjoyed a 58% win percentage under him. After leaving Maccabi, Jordi coached Chongqing Liangjiang and Shenzhen in China without much success. In January 2020, Cruyff agreed to take charge of the Ecuadorian national team, but quit months after, citing hierarchy changes at the Football Association in Quito.
Koeman: ‘Laporta told me he needs tome to look for other coaching options’
A Barcelona great as a player, Ronald Koeman was the final managerial appointment made by former club president Josep Maria Bartomeu. Laporta became president last March and seemed not to have Koeman in his plans.
Talking in a documentary produced by a Dutch broadcaster, Koeman made some big statements regarding his relationship with the new boss.
“We had always gotten along well, then the president tells me that he still has doubts and that he needs more time to look for other coaching options,” Koeman revealed.
“He is there to make decisions, I told him to tell me that I wasn’t good enough to coach the team so we could end the story right there,” the Dutchman opened up.
“I told him to fire me if he didn’t want me, but don’t leave me with this uncertainty telling me you were going to go out and look for other options,” Koeman added.
In his first season as Barca coach, Koeman won the Spanish Cup and was well placed in the title race until the 35th round, before his team allowed Real and Atletico Madrid to jump ahead.
If Barcelona sack Koeman, they will have to pay him around $9 million in compensation. He is under contract until the end of the campaign.
Barcelona legend Xavi is the favorite to come after Koeman, according to the bookies. The ex-midfielder is now at +250. Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is currently at +275, with ex-Barca B coach Javier Garcia Pimienta and Belgium national team manager Roberto Martinez tied at +500.