SOCCER

Ronald Koeman fired from FC Barcelona: who are the possible coaches that could replace him?

Barcelona has fired coach Ronald Koeman after a 1-0 defeat against Rayo Vallecano, and now the club is looking for someone to take his place.

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Ronald Koeman fired from FC Barcelona: who are the possible coaches that could replace him?
OSCAR DEL POZO AFP

Rumors had been brewing about Ronald Koeman being sacked after Barcelona’s poor start to the season, and now the deed is done. Barcelona fired Koeman after back to back losses to Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano brought the club to ninth place at La Liga.

The team made the announcement in a statement:

“Barcelona has relieved Ronald Koeman of his duties as first team coach. The president of the club, Joan Laporta, informed him of the decision after the defeat against Rayo Vallecano. Ronald Koeman will say goodbye to the squad on Thursday at Ciutat Esportiva.”

Now that the Dutchman is formally out of the picture, the question remains- who will take his place? A number of names have cropped up, and here are some which have been bandied around.

Xavi Hernandez

Club legend and former midfielder Xavi Hernandez, currently in charge of Qatari Club Al Saad, is the strong favorite to replace the Dutch coach. Hernandez steered his team to the league and domestic cup last season.

The former Blaugrana captain is the fans’ number one choice for the job. He spent practically all his professional playing days at Camp Nou, and so is intimately acquainted with Barcelona’s tiki-taka style of play.

Jordi Cruyff

Jordi Cruyff is the son of Barcelona’s celebrated player and manager Johan Cruyff. The Dutchman is Barcelona’s sporting adviser and head of the scouting department. He has had experience in coaching with Shenzen FC, the Ecuadorian national team, and Maccabi Tel Aviv.

He also has extensive knowledge of the club’s style, after spending time with his father who led the team to victory in the 90s. He could be appointed as temporary manager until another one could be hired long-term.

Sergi Barjuan

Sergi Barjuan is currently coaching Barcelona’s B team and has been with the club for quite some time. However, his work with the B team only began in June. It would be convenient to promote him temporarily and give him a long-term contract if he performs well.

Henrik Larsson

Henrik Larsson is currently the third coach in the first team. He played for the club between 2004 and 2006, and helped them win the Champions League. His experience with Barcelona would already give him first-hand knowledge not only of its style of play but also its problems.

He is also reported to be on good terms with the players of the team. Hiring him as a temporary coach would also make sense.

Erik Ten Hag

Erik Ten Hag is a promising contender for Barcelona, having performed well at Ajax the past few years. The Dutch manager led the young team during the 2018-19 campaign to victory over Real Madrid and Juventus to reach the semifinals of the Champions League.

The issue with Ten Hag is that he is still working at Ajax, and so will likely not be available until the end of the season.

Roberto Martinez

Roberto Martinez, currently the head coach of Belgium, is also being considered for the coaching job. The Spaniard has extensive experience, which includes playing with Zaragoza, Swansea, and Chester City. His attacking style in football would be a good fit with Barcelona.

Marcel Gallardo

River Plate coach Marcel Gallardo’s name has also been floated. The Argentine has met with success in South America, clinching two Copas Libertadores with his team. Gallardo, nicknamed “El Muñeco” or The Doll, has an existing contract with River Plate so he may not be immediately available to take the post in Barcelona.

Whomever will be chosen to lead the club will be hard-pressed to improve Barcelona's recent dismal performance and lift it from ninth place.