Will Koeman’s Dutch bias cloud his time at Barcelona?

It’s been a whirlwind few weeks for Ronald Koeman at Barcelona.

The former Dutch international and Barca player has had to deal with the fall out from Lionel Messi wanting to leave, overseeing Messi’s best mate, Luis Suarez actually leaving, watching with interest to see how a vote of no confidence in the president who hired him was doing and all the while trying to get the Catalans playing well.

For the latter point, he couldn’t really have done any better. Continue reading

What next for Bartomeu and Barcelona after a successful vote of no confidence?

It’s taken a while to get through most of the votes cast in the first stage of the vote of no confidence relating to Barcelona president, Josep Maria Bartomeu.

The validation of successful votes is almost concluded, and has already surpassed the threshold needed to trigger a referendum, which is stage two of any vote.

Theoretically at this point, Bartomeu could still remain as president, and it doesn’t look like he’ll resign anytime soon. Continue reading

Koeman silences the doubters but bigger tests await Barcelona

It was, perhaps, one of the most keenly awaited debuts in La Liga for many a year.

After such a disastrous end to their last campaign, the football family wanted to know how the ‘new’ Barcelona would fare under Ronald Koeman.

It’s fair to say that the team did everything asked of them by their coach, and then some. Continue reading

Winners and losers from Barcelona’s pre-season

The preparation is over and it’s time for things to get serious.

After everything that’s been said and done since the 8-2 hammering against Bayern Munich in last season’s Champions League, Barcelona have the chance to put it all behind them.

If they’re able to hit the ground running against Villarreal on Saturday, and Ronald Koeman can get everyone playing as they can, the Catalans won’t be too far off the pace for long. Continue reading

What would represent success for Barcelona in 2020/21?

Barcelona are still a week and a half away from the start of their La Liga campaign, thanks to their Champions League exploits.

Beginning their 2020/21 season behind everyone else will already put them at a slight disadvantage, but if Ronald Koeman can have his side firing from the get-go, then there’s no reason why they can’t close the gap quickly.

In any event, what would represent success for the Catalans this season? Continue reading

Barcelona Mark 2- what to expect from Messi and the new signings this season

A terrible season without silverware followed a nasty August for Barcelona when the best player to ever play for them told the club he was leaving. Lionel Messi was THIS close to joining Manchester City, but he will stay with the club at least for one more season.

The change of heart is not, at this time, because of the love of the club but more to do with the fact that he doesn’t want to be dragged through the courts and possibly miss up to half a season as he career free falls into someone’s laptop. Instead he has made the U-turn, and Barcelona will breathe a sigh of relief. So of course will new coach Ronald Koeman who may well have been resigned to losing the Argentine a few weeks ago.

Many have said that the era of Barcelona is over, underlined even with Messi in the side when they were destroyed 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Ivan Rakitic has rejoined Sevilla and Luis Suarez looks set to join either Juventus or PSG, either way Koeman has made it known that Suarez is not part of his plans. So it is all change at Barcelona, even with Messi staying, there is a new standing point for the player, who has mostly kept quiet, but his feelings are known now and he is demanding the best from the players on the pitch and the board on their leather seats.

Barcelona have been active in the transfer market and with Messi staying for now this is a boost to the club who have brought in some interesting players. The eye-catching transfer is Miralem Pjanic who comes from Juventus for 60m euros. Barca actually sold Arthur to Juventus for 72m euros, so that is almost like a swap deal.

Koeman has really identified the problem in Barcelona to be of the midfield and along with Pjanic has brought in Francisco Trincao from Braga for 31m euros. Pedri from Las Palmas who will probably see a lot of the bench is in the team for around 5m euros and Matheus Fernandes cost the club 7m euros from Palmeiras.

Also it is widely expected that another midfielder will be brought in that is Memphis Depay from Lyon. Depay had a good last season and has started well in Ligue 1 this season also. He has been tipped to join Barcelona for some time and it is understood that Lyon will not stop the player.

So for Barcelona at this moment it is all about fixing the midfield, maybe accusations of their demise have been exaggerated but then maybe they haven’t. Barcelona have been unlucky in recruitment in recent years, they have certainly splashed the cash only to see the likes of Ousmane Dembele, Phillipe Coutinho and Antonio Griezmann all come up empty. Can their luck change, Messi for one will be hoping so.

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Messi could stay at Barcelona, but is he the problem?

The transfer saga of Lionel Messi may just likely end up as a war of words and nothing else. Messi’s father held talks with the Barcelona board yesterday evening and there were some mixed reports. But some sources confirmed that Messi’s father is optimistic that Messi will make a U-turn and actually stay with the club.

In truth there are only 2 teams that look likely being the right fit for Messi, one is Barcelona and the other is Premier League side Manchester City, mostly because of the Pep Guardiola factor. However there is no guarantee that Guardiola will be at City for the next years ahead, he is entering his 5th season with the club which is a record for him, and this will be likely his final season in Manchester.

Also if you want to know the latest mutterings it makes sense to follow the bookmakers instincts. Last week City were the favourites to sign Messi and could be backed at 1.91 (10/11) to get their main. They are now the 2nd favourites and out to 3.00 (2/1). They have been replaced by Barcelona who are now big odds on at 1.30 (1/3) to keep Messi. That could tell us everything we need to know.

If Messi stays many people especially the fans of Barcelona will breathe a sigh of relief, he is so ingrained into the city, they know they will lose him one day, but no real Barcelona fan wants to lose him like this.

However here’s a thought, is Messi the actual problem at Barcelona? By problem that is not fully blaming him for everything, that would be churlish, and he has been the main reason why Barcelona have been one of the best teams in world football over the past decade. But has Messi simply grown to be such a star that he is stifling other players from growing.

Take out Messi right now from the team and Barcelona do not have higher level world stars in the team. They have very good players, players that on their day look the best in the world, but could it not be argued that the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele and Phillpe Coutinho could grow into their roles more if Messi was not there?

Messi is indispensable of course, but at the same time with no Messi in the team Barcelona would find another way of playing. And despite how brilliant he has been for the club, over the past few seasons it has become noticeable that he has stopped chasing back once he has lost possession of the ball. A hunger has left him, although that could be his personal protest of how the club are being run.

A team without Messi would be interesting and at the same time personally for Messi to be playing in a different league would benefit him surely. The fire seems to have left him, imagine having that reignited. And at 33 his best years are fading fast, that is the nature of the game, he perhaps has 2 very good seasons left in him at the very top. Would it not make sense to leave now?

Change is needed at Barcelona if Messi is to see any more silverware if he decides to stay. The club have spent close to £1 billion in the past 5 years. Big clubs spend big, but that money was being spent to win Champions Leagues, it did bring one for the club in that time but a club the size of Barcelona demand more, much more. That is how high the bar is at the club.

It will be very interesting in some ways if Messi does stay with Ronald Koeman in charge, at least if Messi stays with the league kicking off soon it will give the club a purpose in the early stages of the new season.

La Liga kicks off on September 12th, although Barcelona have been granted extra rest after their participating in last months Champions League. The club will play on the 12th but this will be a friendly match. Their first game of the season will take place on September 27th at home to Villarreal.

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Ivan Rakitic leaves Barcelona with his head high

After the 8-2 humiliation against Bayern Munich, there were always going to be casualties, and not just on the coaching side.

The result was so cataclysmic for the Catalans, that if a root and branch clear out wasn’t necessary, then something approaching it probably was.

Barca’s lowest ebb of this millennium needed strong decisions to finally be made, no matter what. Continue reading

Ivan Rakitic the latest to leave the Barcelona sinking ship

Ivan Rakitic has left Barcelona to rejoin Sevilla, and the fact he has gone back to Sevilla should speak volumes.

Some followers of Barcelona would like to play down Rakitic’s move as no more than a 32 year old who played six seasons with Barcelona simply moving on. But the timing and choosing of his new club is critical.

Lionel Messi has dominated the football news with his stunning transfer request which is in reality taking a stand at how the club has been run over the past 3 seasons. Now of Barcelona’s best midfielders over the same period of time Rakitic has left. True Rakitic was getting on in age, but he is a quality player that still had a few more seasons in him. The fact he has decided to go back to Sevilla where he enjoyed success and much less pressure says a lot. He will be returning back to the club, one suspects with a wide smile plastered over his face.

Rakitic scored 36 goals in all competitions for the club, but that was never why he was brought into the team. He commanded the midfield and set up well with Sergio Busquets after Xavi and then Andreas Iniesta left the club. Rakitic was the perfect fit and helped Barcelona win 13 trophies including 4 league titles and the Champions League which they won in 2015 and remains the last time the club has won it.

This is the season which is expected to be a big clear out for the club. Arda Turan finally left on a free transfer to join Galatasarey after a miserable time at the Nou Camp. Arthur joined Juventus for 72m euros although Barcelona didn’t really ‘see’ that money given that they then gave Juventus 60m euros for Miralem Pjanic.

Others players that are heading for a likely exit are Arturo Vidal who had a poor campaign and hasn’t really kicked on since his debut season with the club. Luis Suarez is almost certain to leave as new coach Ronald Koeman doesn’t see the former Liverpool striker in his plans. Suarez could leave for either PSG or Juventus. In fairness this is a deal that could be good for both player and club, it is obvious that Suarez has lost a few yards, and maybe just needs a fresh challenge.

There is upheaval at Barcelona, a new beginning that there can be little doubt. The club will splash the cash this summer make no mistake, but they have made many of those over the past few seasons, there seems like there is no room for error especially if they can convince Messi to stay.

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Barcelona look to the past as they head to the future

It’s a tried and tested method with football clubs when appointing new managers.

Go with someone who has played for the club in the past so therefore understands the heritage, the demands of the fans, what it means to play for the badge etc.

Although such moves are understandable, they’re always a bit hit and miss in terms of how successful the new incumbent becomes. Continue reading