Ronald Koeman appointed new Barça manager

Eric Abidal leaves role of sporting director as club aim for wholesale changes following Bayern thrashing

New FC Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman (image from FC Barcelona website)
New FC Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman (image from FC Barcelona website) / Cillian Shields

Cillian Shields | Barcelona

August 19, 2020 11:40 AM

Ronald Koeman has been appointed the new manager of FC Barcelona, replacing the outgoing Quique Setién after last Friday’s historic 8-2 defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich. 

The Dutchman played for the club from 1989-1995, and scored the goal to clinch the Catalans’ first Champions League title in 1992 with a sublime long-distance effort. 

Koeman is leaving his position in charge of the Netherlands national side to take over. He has previously managed at Everton, Valencia, Southampton, and Ajax among others, and signs on a two-year deal that is set to expire on June 30, 2022.

Massive task

The new coach will have a massive task on his hands ahead of the new season, which gets underway on September 12, taking over at the Camp Nou during a time of crisis. 

As well as the new manager, the Catalan giants have also confirmed that sporting director Eric Abidal has agreed to end his contract with the club. The former Barça full-back attracted much criticism from Lionel Messi for expressing that he felt that the playing squad was not putting effort in under former coach Ernesto Valverde, who was sacked in January. 

Ramon Planes has been appointed the replacement as sporting director.

Indications from local sports media say almost all of the squad is available for sale, as only Messi, ter Stegen, Lenglet, and de Jong are considered ‘untouchable’, as well as youth players such as Ansu Fati and Riqui Puig, who both showed promise in an otherwise disastrous, trophyless year for Barcelona. 

As such, with outgoings and incomings expected, but with an aging squad on high wages, selling players may prove difficult. 

A huge amount of doubts surround president Josep Maria Bartomeu as president, with a spate of board resignations in April citing a lack of confidence in the figurehead’s ability.

All of this uncertainty enlargens the task ahead for Koeman. Quique Setién took over the reins in January following the sacking of two-time La Liga winner Ernesto Valverde, but many of the structural problems are still in place for the Dutchman to clean up.