arcelona’s coach, Ronald Koeman, was fired on Wednesday after the Club’s ninth-place finish in La Liga following a loss to Rayo Vallecano.
Under Koeman, Barcelona has won only two of their previous seven league games, including Sunday’s Clasico loss to Real Madrid.
Due to the team’s dismal start in the season, there is a chance they will not qualify for the Champions League next season, which would have devastating financial ramifications for the Club.
Former Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez, who is now the coach of Qatari club Al Sadd, and River Plate coach Marcel Gallardo are said to be among the candidates for the job.
“FC Barcelona has sacked Ronald Koeman as coach of the first team tonight,” said a Club statement posted after midnight in Spain on Wednesday.
“Following the setback against Rayo Vallecano, the Club’s President, Joan Laporta, told him.” This Thursday at the Ciudad Deportiva, Ronald Koeman will bid farewell to the squad.
“FC Barcelona wishes him the best of luck in his career and thanks to him for his contributions.”
After scoring the winning goal in the 1992 European Cup final against Sampdoria, Koeman spent six years with Barcelona as a player and is regarded as a Club legend.
In August 2020, he was named coach by former Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu, and he had some success in his first season, winning the Copa del Rey and reuniting a disillusioned Lionel Messi with the Club.
However, a poor La Liga finish and a thrashing by Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last 16 cast doubts on Koeman’s ability to handle big games, a criticism that was levelled against him last weekend after the defeat to Real Madrid.
Joan Laporta was re-elected President in March, and while he permitted Koeman to continue as coach this season, the two never had much trust.
In the summer, Laporta told Koeman he needed 15 days to find a replacement, and this month, Koeman reacted angrily to Laporta’s suggestion that coaches do not have complete power.
Koeman stated, “He spoke too much.”
Perhaps in part due to Barcelona’s precarious financial situation, no replacement was found or could be persuaded to take over.
The Club is in debt to the tune of 1.35 billion Euros, and after failing to renew Messi’s contract, he moved to Paris Saint-Germain in August.
Other major players like Antoine Griezmann left without being fully replaced, with Sergio Aguero and Memphis Depay joining on free transfers, and Luuk de Jong joining on loan from Sevilla.
Last season, Koeman’s candid approach was widely tolerated and even admired, but this season, many saw his pessimistic evaluation of his players as counter-productive and unworthy of a Barcelona manager.
Youngsters like Pedri, Gavi, Nico Gonzalez, Sergino Dest, and Ronald Araujo have benefited from Koeman’s belief, but more experienced players have struggled.
Frenkie de Jong, who worked with Koeman when he was in charge of the Dutch National team, has had a particularly bad run of luck lately.
The board was reportedly unhappy by Koeman’s departure from the Club’s traditions of playing 4-3-3, as his style of play became increasingly direct.
However, outcomes were crucial, as Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid both lost after straight 3-0 defeats by Bayern Munich and Benfica.
Before the international break, Laporta stated that Koeman “earned the benefit of the doubt,” putting a stop to rumours that he would be fired following Atletico’s defeat.
But, facing an early exit from the Champions League and the danger of missing out on a place in La Liga’s top four, Laporta, who was at Vallecas on Wednesday night, decided to take action.