Economic crisis, departure of Messi, huge construction site … Back to the chaotic year of Ronald Koeman at Barça


It was one defeat too many. Beaten by Rayo Vallecano on the 11th day of La Liga, the third failure in a row in the league, FC Barcelona separated from their coach Ronald Koeman on the night of Wednesday to Thursday, October 28.

Between a complicated political and economic context, sporting results at half mast and the departure of his star Lionel Messi, return to the complicated mandate of the Dutch coach.

An arrival in a difficult context

Humiliated in the quarter-finals of the Champions League against Bayern Munich in Lisbon (8-2) on August 14, 2020, FC Barcelona sinks into an unprecedented sporting crisis. Sacked three days later by the club, Quique Setién, who has been the coach since January, is replaced by Ronald Koeman on the Catalan bench.

Ronald Koeman and Josep Maria Bartomeu during the official presentation of the Dutch technician at the Camp Nou on August 19, 2020 in Barcelona.  (URBANANDSPORT / AFP)

Strongman of the defense of the Blaugranas under the Johan Cruyff era, the Dutchman can boast of having won a Champions League in 1992 as well as four Spanish championships between 1991 and 1994. Recognized trainer, he is at the origin the renewal of his country after having officiated as a coach for two years and brought his team to the final of the League of Nations. At Barça, however, the task promises to be complicated. The team is aging and the site huge.

The desires of Lionel Messi elsewhere

On August 25, 2020, a new thorn is planted in the side of the Dutch coach. And not the least. Barca star Lionel Messi wants to leave the club. The Argentine striker’s lawyers sent the club a fax in which they announced the player’s desire to terminate his contract “unilaterally”.

Barcelona supporters ask Lionel Messi to stay at the club on August 26, 2020 in front of the Camp Nou.  (PAU BARRENA / AFP)

Whoever has only known one club at the professional level finally decides to stay. But the price to pay remains high. La Pulga is the shadow of himself for a few weeks and drags his spleen like his exorbitant salary like a complicated burden to bear for a club already in difficulty.

Barça in debt, Koeman with his back to the wall

In January 2021, the extent of the economic abyss in which FC Barcelona finds itself is now known. The club confirm they have a total debt estimated at 1.173 billion euros, including a short-term one of 730.6 million euros. The 450 million euros spent in the transfers of Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembélé and Antoine Griezmann since the summer of 2017 have not been amortized by the departure of Neymar to PSG. The health crisis closed the stadiums to the public and definitively plunged Barça into crisis.

A 2020-21 season with a mixed record

On the pitch, the 2020-21 season is contrasted for Ronald Koeman on the Barcelona bench. Winner of the Copa del Rey in April against Bilbao (4-0), his only trophy won with the club as an entryîneur, he saves his season, and his head, after a mixed year and a third place in the league without forgetting a new disillusionment in the Champions League with an early elimination from the knockout stages against PSG.

Messi, a departure as the last bulwark

On August 5, 2021, an unprecedented event occurs since Lionel Messi is no longer a player of FC Barcelona. The club formalizes the non-renewal of the Pulga contract “due to economic and structural obstacles”. A situation that plunges Koeman into a dead end, forced to predict a 2021-22 season without his main asset.

Ronald Koeman and Lionel Messi face Celta Vigo at Camp Nou on May 16, 2021. (PAU BARRENA / AFP)

Despite the rookie of Lyonnais Memphis Depay during the summer transfer window, Barcelona floundered in La Liga, and in particular experienced a historic setback against Real Madrid in October, since Ronald Koeman bECOMES the first Barça manager to lose three games in a row against Real Madrid in more than 85 years. The last time such a disappointment occurred was during the 1935/1936 season. A statistic difficult to collect.

After setbacks against Bayern Munich and Benfica Lisbon in the Champions League, the club continues a third defeat in four league games against Rayo Vallecano, too much failure for the club which ends the Dutchman’s tenure with the FC Barcelona.



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