Less than three weeks after getting a public show of support from Barcelona president Joan Laporta, Ronald Koeman is out as manager of the club.
The final straw was Wednesday's 1–0 defeat at Rayo Vallecano, which followed a home loss to rival Real Madrid in El Clásico. It was after Sunday's defeat that fans impeded Koeman's car as he attempted to exit Camp Nou, expressing their frustration in personal, potentially dangerous ways. He
"We have every confidence in him, he's our coach, and he deserves some leeway as he believes in the team and hasn't been able to call on the entire squad yet," Laporta said on Oct. 8 on Catalan radio.
That leeway didn't extend very long. Barcelona did manage to defeat Dynamo Kiev to keep its hopes at securing a place in the Champions League knockout stage alive, but the club has three wins in its last 10 matches across all competitions and has fallen to ninth in La Liga, six points behind the four teams that are currently tied for first place.
"FC Barcelona has relieved Ronald Koeman of his duties as first team coach," the club wrote in a token statement on Wednesday. "The president of the club, Joan Laporta, informed him of the decision after the defeat against Rayo Vallecano. Ronald Koeman will say goodbye to the squad on Thursday at the Ciutat Esportiva.
"FC Barcelona wishes to thank him for his service to the club and wishes him all the best in his professional career."
Barcelona's struggles surely don't all come down to Koeman. With the club over $1 billion in debt, its ability to spend to retain and add top talent has been compromised. The club famously had to part ways with Lionel Messi over the summer, unable to pay its greatest star of all time and still stay within La Liga's salary cap restrictions. Messi went off to PSG, while Barcelona was barely able to register its free-transfer signings (Sergio Agüro, Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia), doing so only after veteran players at the club accepted pay cuts.
Barcelona also offloaded forward Antoine Griezmann, sending him back to Atlético Madrid, and has instead turned toward a homegrown youth movement. Pedri, Ansu Fati and Gavi are among the teenage talents rising through the ranks, but they're being counted on to carry the load at an extraordinarily young age.
Former midfield star Xavi has long been a target of the club to become its manager, but he remains under contract with Al Sadd in Qatar. Nevertheless, multiple reports have already stated that he'll succeed Koeman. Should he not, River Plate's Marcelo Gallardo and Belgium national team manager Roberto Martinez have also previously been touted as candidates to take charge should Koeman be sent on his way.
There's a U.S. men's national team component of Koeman's dismissal. Sergiño Dest recently was moved to a right-sided forward role under the Dutch manager, who had once tried to court him to the Netherlands national team before he ultimately chose the U.S. Depending on who takes charge, Dest could stay in that role, revert to a more standard attacking right-back role or potentially fall out of favor altogether.
It's another time of transition for Barcelona, and all socis and players alike will be eager for the next chapter to be more successful, with it early enough in the season for things to potentially still be salvaged.
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