It’s all change at Barcelona with Ronald Koeman having been handed the task of getting the Catalans back to where they belong.
A horrific 8-2 Champions League quarter-final defeat to Bayern Munich laid bare just how far the Blaugranes have fallen, and on the back of such a seismic result there was always going to be casualties.
Quique Setien and his staff were quickly followed by Eric Abidal, but now it’s Koeman’s turn to weed out the under-performers from his squad.Whilst it’s unlikely to be a ‘bloodbath’ where the Dutchman authorises a root and branch clear out, there’s an argument to be made as to why one or two players should be shown the door.
Given that he’s Lionel Messi’s closest friend on the team, taking Luis Suarez out of the equation isn’t going to be pretty, but it is necessary.
The Uruguayan definitely still knows where the goal is, and in one on ones he’s still got it. His finishing ability hasn’t diminished either.
However, it’s his lack of pace and, therefore, movement which has hampered the Catalans to a degree.
Moreover, with him in the central strikers role, it’s meant that Antoine Griezmann has had to get used to playing out on the wing where he is less effective.
Suarez’s continued employment in the front line, perhaps at Messi’s behest if rumours are to be believed, has also stunted the growth of Barca’s youngsters, keen to break into the first team but seeing their pathway blocked.
After almost six years at the club, no one can deny that Suarez’s time at the Camp Nou has been anything but a roaring success.
From the very beginning of MSN right up until the last 12 months or so, he has played the fullest part in Barca’s victories.
However, he’s getting no younger and if Barca want to get back to the top of the domestic and European tree, then some tough decisions will need to be made.
Koeman’s reputation precedes him, and it would appear likely that he’ll have no problem telling certain players that their time at the club has come to an end.
For the good of the club, Suarez should accept any decision with good grace and look to move on with the minimum of fuss.
Anything other than a gracious exit will tarnish his reputation with Barca’s demanding fan base, and for a player that’s done so much in the second part of the club’s ‘golden decade,’ that would be a real shame.