Barcelona ‘Live In The Past:’ Former Coach Hits Out At Club’s Style


Getty Braithwaite was not in Xavi's plans.

Former Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman lasted just 14 months in charge of the Catalan giants before being sacked in October 2021 and replaced by club legend Xavi Hernandez.

The former midfielder took the Catalans from ninth in the table to a second-placed finish last season and expectations will be high going into the new campaign that Xavi can turn Barcelona back into title-challengers.

However, Koeman has offered his thoughts on Barcelona in an interview with Esports3 and feels the club are continuing to live in the past when it comes to their style of play and 4-3-3 formation.

“I’m in favor of dominating the game. If you play with three central defenders and five midfielders, you can’t say it’s a defensive system. With this system for three or four months we played the best games in recent years,” he said. “The clearest example was the [Copa del Rey] final against Athletic. Barça live in the past, with 4-3-3, with tiki-taka, football has changed, now it’s faster, more physical, you can’t live in the past. And you no longer have Xavi, Iniesta … and Messi, who, by the way, was taken away from me. That was a very hard blow.”

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Xavi: Barcelona’s Style is Non-Negotiable

Xavi was asked about Barcelona’s style last season and made it clear he was not planning any major changes. The coach told reporters at a press conference that the team’s identity was non-negotiable.

“In the history of Barcelona, we have played a certain way. With this style of play and philosophy, we have managed to win five Champions League titles,” he explained. “Around the world, ‘Pep’s Barca with Messi’, are the envy of the world. That is seen as the best club team ever. My message is always focused on how we win, and we must persist in this style of play.”

Barcelona did improve their league standing under Xavi next season but also ended the season without any silverware. The Catalans were knocked out of the Europa League by eventual-winners Eintracht Frankfurt and went out of the Copa del Rey against Athletic.

Koeman Talks De Jong & Lewandowski

Koeman also shared his thoughts on Frenkie de Jong and Robert Lewandowski. De Jong’s future remains uncertain amid speculation Barcelona are keen to sell the midfielder to Manchester United.

The former coach, who knows De Jong well from his time in charge of Barcelona and the Netherlands national team, says that the 25-year-old does not want to leave the Camp Nou.

“All I know is that Frenkie de Jong wants to stay at Barça. He said a couple of days ago that he wants to stay at Barça,” he said. “What I don’t know is if Barça want to sell Frenkie or need the money because he’s one of the few players for whom a high price can be drawn. For me Frenkie de Jong is a great player for Barça.”

Koeman went on to discuss the possibility of Lewandowski moving to Barcelona and admitted he had doubts over whether it was a good idea to spend big on an ageing player.

“Lewandowski is a great player, a certain scorer, but he is a certain age. 35?” he explained. “I have my doubts about paying 50 or 60 million for a player, in addition to his salary.”

The Bayern Munich striker will turn 34 in August but remains one of Europe’s deadliest strikers, hitting 50 goals in all competitions last season. However, Bayern’s price tag is high, particularly considering Lewandowski will be a free agent in 2023.

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