Barcelona officials including president Joan Laporta are believed to have discussed the possibility of sacking under pressure coach Ronald Koeman until 4am following Wednesday night’s humbling Champions League defeat to Benfica.
Despite awful circumstances out of his control, pressure has been building on Koeman all season and a 3-0 defeat in Lisbon was only the latest in a string of poor results on the pitch.
According to SPORT, Koeman’s time has run out – they say his ‘credit is exhausted’ – and several board members held an emergency meeting immediately upon returning from Lisbon.
It is said that president Laporta, who has pleaded with fans to stick with Barça and be patient in a series of videos published on social media, headed straight to the club’s base at Ciutat Esportiva along with vice-president Rafa Yuste, football director Mateu Alemany and adviser Enric Masip.
The meeting was said to have lasted until 4am and the subject of discussion was whether Koeman will still be Barcelona coach by the weekend when the team visits Atletico Madrid.
At this moment in time, it is not clear whether a firm decision about his future was reached.
Speaking to the press immediately after the Champions League defeat, players including Frenkie de Jong and Sergio Busquets appeared to defend Koeman, with the former claiming a change in coach 'won't solve anything'.
Should Koeman be dismissed, Camp Nou legend Xavi is already one of the favourites to be approached. Current Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez is another. Laporta is also said to be an admirer of Andrea Pirlo, who was sacked by Juventus after one season in charge.
Sacking Koeman will cost already cash-strapped Barça, whose salary cap for this season was revealed this week to be €250m less than last season and just a fraction of Real Madrid’s.
The Dutchman is believed to have paid his own buyout clause when he left his job as Netherlands national team coach in 2020, but would be entitled to have that €6m figure refunded by the club if his contract is not extended into a third season until 2023.