Ronald Koeman Outlines His Vision, Lionel Messi's Future & Rebuilding Job at Barcelona

Ross Kennerley
Aug 19, 2020, 7:02 PM GMT+1
Koeman has left his role in charge of the Netherlands to return to Barcelona
Koeman has left his role in charge of the Netherlands to return to Barcelona / TF-Images/Getty Images
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Call him brave or barmy, either way, Ronald Koeman has taken over one of the most precarious, yet prestigious, jobs in football: Barcelona manager.

One of the worst results in the club's long history saw Quique Setien removed from the role, with Josep Maria Bartomeu and co. acting swiftly to appoint the legendary defender in his stead.

With turmoil uncertainty at the club, there is no denying the scale of the job Koeman faces upon his arrival. Yet, while facing the media for the first time, the Dutchman insisted there would be 'revolution' in terms of the playing squad.

“It is not a revolution, we must look for the best for the club and if that implies changes, we will make changes," he said. "But we will do so by talking to the players. We are clear that what we saw against Bayern is not the Barça that we want to see, we want a very different image.

“I am Dutch and we always look to have the ball. The intention is to dominate the ball, play good football, and win games. I have learned from many coaches as a player and I have experience as a coach. I think I am qualified to coach Barça. 

"The connection between Barça and the Dutch exists. These days are more complicated by COVID-19, but football should be enjoyed, and without enjoying you do not get the most out of it. I have to be proud of each of the players and me as a coach also to be in this club”.

One of the most startling topics to emerge from the 8-2 humbling at the hands of Bayern Munich was president Bartomeu's open admission that only a select few players at Camp Nou were not up for sale. Lionel Messi, unsurprisingly, featured on that list, but talk of him being unsettled was cast aside by Koeman, who hopes to keep him in Catalonia for 'years'.

"As a coach, you want to have the best player in the world in your team and not the other way around," he insisted. "He has a contract and from today we will talk and start our work. I hope Messi stays here for more years.

"If I say it here, I won’t have to meet him. They are private things and I’ll talk to him about what he thinks of Barça, how he wants to continue and I am the coach to make decisions not only for him but for other players. He has a one-year contract but you always want him on your team.”

A lot of criticism has been directed Barça's way for some questionable transfer dealings, some moves that have left them with an ageing squad, particularly in central midfield. Koeman dismissed the notion that his players over the age of 30 were finished, claiming it's the players' desire which counts the most.

He concluded: “Not at the beginning [will the spine of the team be changed]. A player with the age of 31 or 32 years is not finished. It depends on how hungry the player is to still be here. There are 20-year-old players without hunger or work. We need the best team to win games, and work with people who want to give their best and nothing else”.

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