Has The Revolution At Barcelona Already Begun?

The Cules have been demanding a revamp of their squad for quite a long time now. The current core of the squad has been serving the club for many years and has provided the fans and the world incredible football but with each passing year it has become abundantly clear that a change in personnel or at least planning for the same is quintessential. The Barcelona Board has lacked massively in the latter, this is proven by the fact that last year the team played their oldest squad in their 120 year history. After the hammering of the club by Bayern Munich in the Champions League Quarter Finals the club President, Josep Maria Bartomeu has finally realized that there is truly a need for change. The first step in the right direction for the same has been taken: The appointment of Ronald Koeman as the Manager of FC Barcelona.

Ronald Koeman’s Job

Koeman has had great stints and bad stints in several clubs, this has put several doubts regarding his sporting ability. However, right Barcelona needs to realize that their need of the hour is not immediate success but stability while they rebuild. In order for Barca to rebuild the most important task for Koeman is to remove those players whom he doesn’t want to use in his plans, from the squad to reduce their wage bill, which is the highest in the world. He has been doing the job well by telling several such players to find themselves new clubs. He is a club legend and has a bold personality along with a presence in the dressing room which should also allow him to remove the ‘Friendship FC’ tag from the club. The Dutchman has a monumental task ahead of him but he has proved he is capable of the same time and again at Ajax and most recently with the Dutch National Team where he brought out the very best of their young core, taking to the Nations League Final in 2019.

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Clearing the Canvas

Every artist needs a blank canvas and that is what Koeman is trying to do after taking the helm. The Dutchman has informed 4 players: Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Samuel Umtiti and Arturo Vidal that they are not part of his plans for Barcelona. Though Suarez is adamant to stay and there have been no suitors for Umtiti. Rakitic and Vidal are almost out of the door with the former returning to Sevilla and the latter touted to be reuniting with former coach Antonio Conte at Inter. This will not only allow the youth to get minutes but also reduce that ginormous wage bill. These are not expected to be the only exits this season with the most notable and controversial being Lionel Messi having made up his mind about leaving the club.

The Messy(i) Situation

The Argentine has shown time and again that he is loyal to this club to his core but everyone has their limit as to how much can they take and when it is enough and it seems like the Board has finally made Messi reach his limit. After going 5 years without even a Champions League Final and 3 humiliations in 3 years in the competition, the Best Player in the World has decided to leave his home of 19 years. Though there are still details to be worked out about the exit it seems inevitable that Messi leaves. Many Cules see it as a nightmare but it just might be the opposite. Messi has undoubtedly carried the team and others have let him for the past 3 years and it to some extent worked but it wasn’t enough. Throughout history we have seen that no matter how great a player is, it is impossible for him to carry an entire squad to glory in a major competition. With Messi’s departure the squad might start to take some responsibility themselves and will lose the ‘Pass to Messi and hope he does something’ mentality.

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Who Can Replace Messi?

Replacing a player like Messi is almost impossible as Real Madrid has just found out after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo. Last season Messi was directly contributing for 53% of all goals scored by Barcelona in La Liga even though he missed 5 games to injury, proving how dependent they were on the Argentine. However, the Barcelona does possess enough fire power to divide these numbers among themselves.

Griezmann last season was shifted to the left wing away from his natural position and still managed to score 9 goals and 4 assists. Koeman on several occasions reiterated the necessity to play a player in the position he prefers. This undoubtedly would be music to Griezmann’s ears especially with Luis Suarez looking at the exit door. He has a golden opportunity to prove his 120 million euro price tag and show his quality like he did for Atletico Madrid and has been consistently showing for France.

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Another man who benefits from Messi’s departure is Phillipe Coutinho who had an extremely disappointing 2018-19 season in a Barcelona shirt. This was majorly because his style of cutting into the center from the wing was already being performed by Messi putting Coutinho in awkward positions oftenly. He will now have the freedom to play his natural game without worrying about occupying someone else’s space.

The third spot in this attack looks like to be occupied by Ousmane Dembele. The Frenchman was brought in to replace Neymar but injuries have not allowed him to show the quality fans know he possesses. If he can remain fit he can make a deadly trio with fellow Frenchman Griezmann and Phillipe Coutinho. Barcelona has spent upwards of 350 million Euros and none of the three have much to show for it. If this trio can click all previous shortcomings will undoubtedly be forgiven and Bartomeu can walk out of his presidency with some shred of dignity still intact.

The Future

Though the new boss has signed a 3 year deal with FC Barcelona, after the elections which are scheduled for March 2021 it is unlikely that Koeman will remain at the post as frontrunner Victor Font has openly admitted that he will be bringing the Barca Legend: Xavi Hernandez back to the Camp Nou as a manager. This has not stopped Koeman from building the team though while looking at the future. The Dutchman is looking to continue with the groundwork his predecessor, Quique Setien had laid down. Breakthrough talents like Ansu Fati and Riqui Puig will be given a chance at starting berths and other Barca B players like Konrad de la Fuente, Monchu and Ronald Araujo will be a part of the team with Konrad potentially playing as the second option for a striker under Antoinne Griezmann and since Gerard pique said he will be open to playing as a substitute if it meant betterment for the club, Araujo has a chance of grabbing that RCB role beside Clement Lenglet, however with a move for Manchester City’s Eric Garcia in the works, he will have to fight hard for it.

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The night is darkest right before the dawn, and maybe after 3 years of darkness the sun may be about to shine over Catalonia but the Blaugrana will have to be very smart and tactful in the near future if they are to overcome this slumber. The hierarchy needs to realize they need to focus on stabilizing the club rather than focusing on instant success. With his record and commanding attitude, Ronald Koeman can lead the Catalan Giants to the light but the players need to show a lot of fight to do so and the board needs to support him throughout, something they didn’t do for Ernesto Valverde or Quique Setien.

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