August 19, 2020

Sports ‘Messi has never been closer to leaving’ – Balague on what Koeman faces at Barca


sports Guillem Balague's BBC Sport column

So now it is legit. Ronald Koeman is the fresh coach of Barcelona and Lionel Messi, the Dutchman has acknowledged, will be key to his plans.

President Josep Maria Bartomeu has spoken to Messi’s dad, who told him Koeman’s pondering used to be graceful, but he needed to talk to his son.

The club’s center of attention have to silent no longer, maybe, be about what Lionel Messi can attain for Barcelona but rather what the fresh Barcelona can attain for Lionel Messi.

In the very shut to future, Koeman, Messi and Bartomeu are going to beget to discuss about things. Messi, on holiday and entirely out of reach to all but his very shut circle, is going to need numerous convincing.

What are Messi’s alternatives?

Messi is silent spitting feathers after the 8-2 Champions League quarter-closing humiliation by Bayern Munich.

He on the overall might no longer even talk to his mother after a serious defeat, so the chances of him sitting around a table to discuss about his quick future with Bartomeu – among the men, if no longer the well-known one, to blame for the dreadful plan back the club finds itself in, and who he needs to appear gone – are a long way flung to claim the least.

Barca, meanwhile, are reminding everyone his buyout clause is 700m euros (£627.96m).

Bartomeu has privately notion in regards to the likelihood of Messi leaving, and sees positives. However neither he nor somebody else feels courageous sufficient to hang that course. Slightly the contrary.

There beget been moments within the previous when Messi’s future at Barcelona has looked hazardous. However, invent no mistake about it, he has by no diagram been nearer to leaving than he is on the moment.

A memoir coming up from what used to be described as a “dressing-room leak” claimed Messi would tear away “now”. The club denied they had heard that from him, but know the risk is exact. Messi’s camp beget no longer admitted as mighty, but they’ve no longer denied it both.

Messi looked a pissed off figure after Barcelona’s Champions League exit

By the time Messi’s contract ends next summer season, he can beget correct became 34.

He’ll be the first to build a query to himself if he needs to be the chief of a transition that can presumably hang a pair of years – at some level of which time Barcelona will no longer be ready to compete on the wonderful stage – or derive among the diversified offers which beget been accessible and might return, most critically from Paris St-Germain and Manchester Metropolis.

His alternatives might effectively be one final hurrah, maybe reuniting with Neymar – his mountainous buddy and the player he loved taking part in with the most since Ronaldinho – or maybe working over every other time with Pep Guardiola, for sure the coach who helped to invent him the player he is at present.

The selections facing Barcelona are stark. Persuade Messi to care for, promote him whereas they’ll for what they’ll – despite the indisputable fact that with correct 10 months closing on his contract that buyout clause is the stuff of fantasy – or lose him for nothing in June next year.

Koeman and Ramon Planes, the fresh carrying director after Eric Abidal decided his teach did no longer lift sufficient weight, will try to salvage the Argentine to care for.

If they tackle it and also renew the squad, they’re going to deserve each and every sort of accolades. This would be tense.

What has Koeman got to achieve?

Messi apart, the plan back facing Koeman and the Barca board is unerringly easy, despite the indisputable fact that the process might existing tortuously complicated.

About 70% of Barcelona’s revenue is being spent on first-crew wages, a plan back as absurd as it is unsustainable.

At a gathering with selected contributors of the media on the club on Tuesday, Bartomeu insisted the well-known self-discipline facing the club used to be a ‘carrying disaster’ rather then an institutional one.

That will additionally very effectively be a moot level from a president who has passed thru four coaches and five carrying directors in correct six years, leaving Barcelona on the floor, in tatters and with none obvious DNA by strategy of their soccer.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has overseen Ronald Koeman’s appointment

Most up-to-date out of the door is Abidal, who acknowledged earlier this year that obvious gamers had no longer performed for their then coach Ernesto Valverde.

“Who?” asked Messi, as soon as in some time calling on Abidal to identify names, or shut up.

The relationship between the gamers and the board broke down at that level and Abidal used to be over every other time the actual person it used to be most helpful responsible. Basically, he used to be perfect doing the board’s bidding.

Whether or no longer it is a carrying or institutional disaster is something the contributors will hang when they vote in presidential elections Bartomeu has referred to as for March.

He admitted the issues the club are now facing have to silent beget been confronted earlier, presumably after the Anfield debacle in Might also simply final year, when Liverpool staged their yarn Champions League semi-closing turnaround.

Basically, it goes abet mighty additional – and the warning signs beget been there when Barcelona beget been destroyed 4-0 at Paris St-Germain abet in February 2017.

The ideal comeback within the second leg temporarily stuck a plaster over the gaping hurt. Then there beget been the hurtful defeats in opposition to Roma and Liverpool. There beget been sufficient clues.

Who might tear away?

On Tuesday, Bartomeu launched a shortlist of these gamers he notion a pair of must beget for the regeneration of the fresh Barcelona, to play alongside a heroic different coming from the academy who beget no longer all been given their likelihood.

Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Nelson Semedo (surprisingly), Messi, Frenkie de Jong, Clement Lenglet, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann beget been the gamers he named as needed to Barcelona’s renaissance.

That, of course, diagram the gamers he didn’t mention – admire Gerard Pique (diminished in dimension till June 2022), Sergio Busquets (June 2023), Luis Suarez (June 2021, but with an likelihood to renew for another year), Jordi Alba (June 2024), Samuel Umtiti (June 2023), Ivan Rakitic (June 2021) and Arturo Vidal (June 2021) – are notion about surplus to requirements.

The topic, of course, is never any-one is going with a idea to beget sufficient cash to build up them within the vogue to which they’ve change into accustomed, and Busquets, and Alba by potential of his agent, beget already made it abundantly obvious they’re no longer going any place until Barcelona would have interaction to pay up the the relaxation of their contracts. Suarez has feeble a media outlet to anonymously issue the same.

Koeman has been here earlier than and, to be frank, it didn’t tear effectively.

Help in 2007, he tried something very identical when at Valencia, telling the likes of Santiago Canizares (299 appearances) , David Albelda (213) and Miguel Angel Angulo (299) they now no longer featured in his plans.

It without warning became a fight between him and the veterans. He lost. Koeman used to be sacked and replacement duration in-between supervisor Voro straight reinstated them into a relegation-threatened side for the closing five video games of the season.

Having acknowledged that, he did hang Valencia their first Copa del Rey since 1999, then took Southampton to their perfect ever league enact (sixth) earlier than becoming a member of Everton and taking them into the Europa League in his first season.

Now at Barcelona, what is discreet is Koeman and the board desperately want to rid the club of the deadwood (more or less the outline Bartomeu gave these gamers). How’s he going to achieve it? Your bet is as simply as mine.

Presumably most odd of all is the actual fact he has been given a two-year deal, in spite of the actual fact he would beget been rather delighted to signal for one and that he’ll get replaced by club myth Xavi – currently managing in Qatar – after next March’s presidential elections, if Bartomeu’s chosen candidate does no longer salvage elected.

The gigantic majority of candidates beget acknowledged Xavi will be their man of preference if elected, so one of their first jobs it will seemingly be to pay compensation to the outgoing Dutchman.

What are his ways going to be?

One player who will presumably support most from the appointment is De Jong, who has played in a mighty freer characteristic for the Netherlands below Koeman. Below Quique Setien, Barca played a extraordinarily positional game which went very mighty in opposition to the young Dutchman’s natural strengths.

Koeman will without a doubt leer to liberate his doubtless, despite the indisputable fact that the technique he’ll play De Jong tells us straight this side is never any longer going to be the possession-based entirely, positionally concentrated Barcelona that folk identify with.

When it comes to vogue, Koeman has by no diagram represented that particular footballing ideology, despite the indisputable fact that he is a wide admirer of ancient Barca boss Johan Cruyff’s ‘Total Soccer’.

Koeman’s groups, wherever he has been, are inclined to be a minute bit bit more dilapidated, flexible, conservative and even less structured, trying repeatedly to adapt to the gamers and no longer to a theory, which suits in opposition to the usual solutions of the club.

However who knows to any extent additional what Barcelona’s DNA is or have to silent be? That is never any longer being debated amid the chaos on the club.

In disclose for you to make utilize of Messi to his fullest, all bets are off – he dictates the technique the game is played.

The tall self-discipline will be whether Koeman can mix the youthfulness and vitality his fresh crew will need with the tempo and structure Messi requires around him to invent his affect.

We are capable of appear what happens. Whether or no longer that evolution will occupy Messi remains to be considered.

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