Ronald Koeman, ‘a sacred cow’ in the 20th century, arrives at Camp Nou to end the ‘sacred cows’ of the XXI century. He has not yet opened the door of his office in the sports city of Sant Joan Despí, but he is very clear about the plan to regenerate a flawed dressing room that had taken over the club.
The future new Barça coach knows that he must start with the great pieces that serve not only as a message but also as an example. Koeman wants to imitate his old friend Guardiola. If in 2008 Ronaldinho and Deco left the team (Etoo still had a one-year extension endorsed by his own teammates), in 2020 it would be their turn to pack their bags. Luis Suárez, Umtiti, Arturo Vidal and Rakitic, according to the ‘Koemanian’ roadmap, pending, of course, the convoluted economic scenario that Barça faces.
The unknown Messi
And Messi? The silence that the star maintains about its future becomes more and more powerful amid the chaos that shakes Barça after the embarrassment against Bayern Munich. At 33, Messi missed the date on which he could go free this summer and now his termination clause, set at 700 million euros, acts as a dissuasive border. As much as it will be he, and only he, who decides his next step.
There are few clubs, moreover, that can assume the annual record of the Barça captain, estimated at around 50 million euros net. Inter, Manchester City and who else …? And, furthermore, angry as he is with Bartomeu’s board because he feels that he has left him without suitable partners after Neymar’s departure, he buys time to make a decision that will mark the final stretch of his career.
With contract in force all
But that roadmap remains, at all times, conditioned by the delicate economic situation that the club is experiencing, which will stop entering more than 200 million euros due to Covid-19, and due to the difficulties in giving way to all these footballers, who have a contract in force and with unaffordable salaries in this pandemic market.
In that document there are also two very symbolic names: Sergio Busquets, second captain of the squad after Messi, and Jordi Alba. Although everything will depend on so unusual transfer market. If Barça does not find adequate spare parts for both, they would end up staying.
Busquets, 32, has a contract until 2023 and an inaccessible record in this post-pandemic market. The link of the left-handed side (31) expires in 2024 with a salary that was marked by the parameters before the coronavirus because he signed his renewal in February 2019.
Lighten wage bill
TO Suarez (33), for whom Ajax has already been interested to re-fish him, he has one year left on his contract. It ends in 2021 and Barça would be willing to give him the letter of freedom to lighten the wage bill, one of the great obsessions of the board in the last year of its mandate to balance the accounts and combat the fall in income due to Covid-19.
Rakitic (32), who yearns to return to Sevilla, despite the fact that his salary complicates it a lot, and Arturo Vidal (33), in whom Paris SG is interested, they also end at the end of next season, so Koeman’s diagnosis points directly to the core of thirty-something, forced to rejuvenate the squad. For performance and also as a symbol that a new order has been established where he is the boss.
AND Umtiti (26 years old) is a basket case for the club, hurt because he did not want to intervene for his physical problems in the knee and has had an absolutely marginal role in the team, also coinciding with the renewal that he signed a month before being world champion with France in Russia-2018.
Inject new energy
That is the starting point that the new coach has drawn to shake up a dressing room that has been gaining power in the club while losing performance on the field, especially in Europe because it has been five years since he won the Champions.
It is up to Koeman to regenerate a worn-out squad in which the inclusion of young people like De Jong, who will now acquire an influential role in the team’s structure, they had not been able to break the old hierarchies. Neither he nor Griezmann have injected the energy that was expected to a group that collapsed with such a crash in Lisbon that it was left without an alibi.
First let out, then the new ones will arrive. Nor too many because Barça does not have economic resources if it does not obtain income from transfers (something complex) or saves wages. When verifying that there was no one in the market willing to pay the 80 million that he is asking for Coutinho, the club plans to recover it for the new project, something that Setién already wanted, although the board told him that It was impossible to have so many stars (Messi, Suárez, Griezmann, Dembélé, Piqué, Busquets …) with such high salaries.