By Preye Campbell
Ronald Koeman will continue to be the man in the Barcelona dugout in the 2021/22 season, after club president Joan Laporta confirmed his stay as head coach.
Koeman joined the Spanish giants last season as a replacement for Quique Setien and managed the Blaugranas to their 31st Copa Del Rey title and a third-place finish in La Liga.
Laporta has now stated that the former Barca midfielder remains key in the club’s plans going forward, displacing any rumour that club legend Xavi will take over.
What’s Behind Koeman’s Stay?
Returning Barca to their predatory, attack-minded self will be high on Koeman nd the board’s minds as they seek to take control of both the league division and Europe again. That form of entertaining football at Camp Nou is essential and could even earn Koeman a contract extension. Anything short of this – and trophies – may see him back in the rumour bin and this time, facing the exit door.
Assessing Koeman’s Stay at Barca
He may have delivered silverware in his debut season at the club, but that is the sort of thing you’d expect from a manager at a club like Barcelona and with a star player like Lionel Messi. Koeman was unfortunate to arrive at the club at a time when the future of their Argentine superstar was uncertain and at a time when the club was thrown in a leadership turmoil, not to mention those record-breaking debts. Barca’s off-field issues culminated into their on-field performances, and for some, the 2020-21 season might be Barca’s worst season in recent years. No cutting edge, no fluidity, no identity, the team’s fate perfectly placed on the shoulders of one player.
Koeman was in the middle of this and on so many occasions, was touted for a mid-season sack. Ultimately Barca failed to dominate La Liga – ironically watching a Luis Suarez led Atletico Madrid cruise to the trophy – and exited the UEFA Champions League in disappointing fashion.
What to Expect from Barca in the 2021-22 Season
Tensions behind who will lead the club and Messi’s contract has since eased, and with the recent capture of Sergio Aguero from Manchester City and some eye-catching deals still in the works, Barca should be finally free from the distractions of last season and work towards restoring the glory days. That ultimately means winning every domestic trophy and giving a strong showing at the Champions League next season. All of this must happen with the team playing attack-minded football that has been their hallmark over the years.
The task for Koeman is as simple as it is daunting; return Barcelona to the elite table. Anything short of that will result in an exit.
Th club have already signed Aguero and Eric Garcia both from City. Messi with a new contract is high on the minds of the club’s hierarchy. It is expected that Georginio Wijnaldum will swap Anfield for Camp Nou once his contract expires next month, while there has been talks mooted for Lyon’s captain Memphis Depay. There is still a long-term target for Borussia Dortmund’s superstar Erling Haaland but a move may stall this summer.