Football

Is Barcelona's new coach Ronald Koeman doomed from the start?

Barca presidential candidate Font says he will still get Xavi as coach, even if Dutchman has a great season

Just as Ronald Koeman is getting oriented in his new job as Barcelona coach, an axe has already been placed over his head.

The Catalan club's presidential candidate Victor Font told Spanish radio programme El Larguero that should he win next year's elections, he will not change his plan of installing Xavi Hernandez as coach, even if Koeman has a great season.

Font looks set to be challenged by another ex-Barcelona club president, Joan Laporta, in the club's presidential elections set for next March.

Incumbent Josep Maria Bartomeu, the man who brought Koeman in, is unable to stand for a third term.

Speaking on Spanish radio programme El Larguero, Font said: "Even if Koeman has a great season, I will not change my plans.

"If I become president, Koeman will not be the coach of Barca in the 2021-22 season.

"Xavi understands that all the puzzles in the club must be put together. Who will lead the team will be decided by the board of directors, in our case it will be him."

Along with the likes of Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta, Xavi was an integral part of the 2011 side that won the Champions League under Pep Guardiola. He is currently coaching Qatar's Al-Sadd.

Speaking at his official unveiling on Wednesday, Koeman said he will "fight to put Barcelona back on top".

"I've signed, I'm the coach of Barcelona and we're going to work starting from now. Changes need to be made," said the 57-year-old, who signed a two-year deal after activating his release clause as Holland coach.

In his six seasons as a Barca player, Koeman made 264 appearances, scoring 88 goals as he shone in Johan Cruyff's "Dream Team", winning four consecutive La Liga titles from 1991 to 1994.

Koeman said he would stick to his preferred Dutch style of possession-based football, staying true to the club's tradition, but rowed back on suggestions that the likes of Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba could all be leaving the club.

"If decisions need to be made, we'll take them," said Koeman. "A player who is 31, 32 years old, he's not finished. It's all about the hunger he has to want to be at this club and give the maximum."

The former Everton and Valencia boss also said he was confident of keeping Messi, with the 33-year-old Argentina star entering the final season of his contract.

"He still has a year on his contract, he's part of Barca. I don't know if I need to convince him. He's the best player in the world. And you want to have the best in your team, not against you," said Koeman.

"As a manager, I love the idea of coaching Messi. He wins matches on his own. I will speak to him, but I hope he will stay here for several more years." - AFP

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