And on the sixth day God said: I have quit. Ronald Koeman’s first week as Barcelona coach is in place today and in seven days he has lost the club’s third all-time top scorer Luis Suarez and now all-time top scorer and the club’s greatest player, Lionel Messi.
No one can accuse him of slow progress.
Koeman told Suarez he was not wanted on Monday and on Tuesday Messi told Barcelona he wanted to leave.
The Dutch coach had to shake things up but even he couldn’t expect this departure.
On Monday Koeman will take charge of his first training session but Suarez won’t be there and neither will Messi. Suarez’s lawyers are waiting to talk to Barcelona lawyers about how to pay off his contract.
A week ago, Ronald Koeman was unveiled as Barcelona’s new manager
In just seven days, Koeman managed to sack Luis Suarez (left) and alienate Lionel Messi
Barcelona may need more lawyers as they are now heading into a dispute with Messi over whether the clause which allows him to leave for free is still valid or whether it ended in June.
Messi argues that, as the season only ended in August, the clause does not end until the end of that month.
Let the lawyers do it all. Koeman will have enough to do on the training ground.
In his first week, he also told Ivan Rakitic, Samuel Umiti and Arturo Vidal that they had to leave the club. But they don’t get free transfers like Suarez so it remains to be seen whether they are absent from Monday’s session, or present but training separately.
It also remains to be seen what the body language of Gérard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba will be. All have been conspicuous by their absence from President Josep Bartomeu’s “non-transferable players” list, but it seems they are staying, Alba and Busquets largely because they have contracts that run until 2024 and 2023, respectively. , and Pique because Koeman is no fool – he knows he’s still Barcelona’s best defender.
Sergio Busquets (left) knows he will be dropped by Koeman for many upcoming matches
Samuel Umtiti is one of the other players who have been told he has no future at Barca
Will Philippe Coutinho be there on Monday? He flew to Brazil after winning the Champions League with Bayern Munich, but not before a phone conversation with Koeman in which Barca’s new coach told him he was part of his plans.
Will Coutinho cut his vacation to just a week to be there on day one for his new boss? On his return, the two friends who welcomed him on his arrival from Liverpool will not be there.
Koeman’s 60-second call to Suarez was painless. Suarez knew what was going to happen and didn’t extend the conversation. The other three Barcelona players who Koeman asked to find new clubs also knew they weren’t wanted.
Rakitic and Vidal have one year left, Umtiti is under contract until 2023. In the case of the first two things could drag on if Barcelona insist on transfer fees and potential buyers wait until October 5 to get free transfers for players who will be free agents in a year.
Umtiti’s injury record makes it a risky buy and there is no guarantee the club will successfully find a buyer. At three years of his contract, if he stays, he will have to be part of the team.
And although they told those three they had no future at the club, Koeman still has too many players. On day one, Sergio Busquets, Frenkie De Jong, Miralem Pjanic, Riqui Puig, Sergi Roberto, Monchu, Carles Alena and Matheus Fernandes will all be ready to challenge what looks like a two-man central midfielder.
Philippe Coutinho will return to favor after winning Champions League with Bayern Munich
Frenkie De Jong is the heartbeat of the new team Koeman will begin to form
Gerard Pique remains Barca’s best defender so Koeman can’t afford to lose him
Left-back Jordi Alba’s long contract may have saved him from smelling Koeman’s ax
He has already confirmed that he wants De Jong to play the pivotal role in Barca’s system, but it appears to be a double pivot and Koeman has to decide who the Dutchman’s partner is.
Sometimes it will be Busquets, but more often it will not. He won’t want eight players for two positions, he will want the club to move others.
But players are proving difficult to change and it may be that the player Barcelona fans absolutely do not want to lose is the one who leaves before those who have been put up for sale. Koeman’s headaches may be just beginning.
Project Koeman will see even more battles unfold in its second week and beyond