Barcelona’s decision to keep hold of first-team coach Ronald Koeman for a second season could cause a “domino effect” in the squad with seven players tipped to leave before the start of the 2021-22 campaign.
President Joan Laporta confirmed on Thursday that Koeman would continue in charge of Barcelona following intense speculation he would be sacked after missing out on the league title.
Confirmation that Koeman will stay could see up to seven players leave the Camp Nou in order to avoid spending the rest of next season on the bench, according to Gabriel Sans at Mundo Deportivo. Center-back Samuel Umtiti has already be told he should look for a new club, while the Catalan giants are also willing to accept offers for Junior Firpo.
Sergi Roberto is also considered “transferable” as his contract expires in 2022 and Barca will not offer an extension. Midfielders Miralem Pjanic and Matheus Fernandes are also surplus to requirements after barely featuring last season under Koeman.
The Dutchman’s continuity is also bad news for Riqui Puig. The 21-year-old is popular with fans and the board would like him to stay, but the report claims Koeman will get the “final decision” on the youngster’s future.
Francisco Trincao also has an uncertain future at Barca. The Portuguese winger did not have the impact expected of a player who cost €31 million in his first season at the Camp Nou and faces intense competition for a place in the attack.
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Joan Laporta Explains Koeman Decision
Laporta spoke at a news conference on Thursday to explain his decision to keep on Koeman for another season. The president had said previously he was looking for a replacement but insisted the club has always believed in Koeman, as reported by Diario Sport.
“If he didn’t have another year on his deal we would have reached the same conclusion,” he said. “The year was not a condition. This board has always believed in Koeman. The conversations were to get to know each other better, know what went wrong, correct mistakes. The conversations had nothing to do with contractual terms. We are very satisfied with him.”
Koeman had always made it clear he wanted to stay on and see out his two-year contract, and Laporta added that the Dutchman is looking forward to a strong season with Barcelona in 2021-22.
“We’ve seen a Koeman who is very hopeful that the next season will be very good. I’ve seen him with a good attitude and enthusiastic. We hope it will be a good season,” he said. “Now we know where we are. Koeman was already aware of the work that Mateu Alemany and Rafa Yuste were doing. We are unifying criteria and hoping to find a way of working everyone likes.”
Jordi Cruyff Returns to Barcelona
Keeping on Koeman is not the only key decision Laporta has made this week. The president has signed Eric Garcia, Sergio Aguero, and Emerson Royal and has also brought Jordi Cruyff back to the club.
The son of club legend Johan Cruyff will work as Laporta’s special adviser and has already spoken about how happy he is to be back at the Camp Nou, as reported by Marca.
“I left the club 25 years ago and it’s been a long track record since then, it’s like coming home. I also know this place very well and that will help me in my work,” he said. “The motivation is enormous. This is a very special club for me and my family. It gives me immense pride to be here and I’ll give my all to help the team and the club.”
More changes looks likely before the start of next season with Barca keen to offload players to cut costs and try to ease the club’s difficult financial situation. Fans will be hoping the changes Laporta is making at the club will help Koeman’s team challenge for trophies at home and abroad next season.