It's official: Ronald Koeman is the new Barcelona manager.
The Dutchman has left his role as head coach of the Netherlands national side and returned to the Camp Nou, where he spent six seasons as a player.
Between 1989-1995, Koeman scored 88 goals for the club to help them win four league titles and a European Cup - in which he scored the winner in the final against Sampdoria.
But just because he’s a bit of a club legend, Koeman certainly hasn’t got an easy job on his hands.
How will he transform the fortunes of a side that ended the season trophyless for the first time since 2007/08 and were just humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-final?
There’s certainly no easy fix but Marca have identified FIVE things he’s previously said that indicate the changes he will look to make at the Camp Nou.
Frenkie de Jong’s best position
"It's important that he plays games, but it can be argued whether he is doing so in his best position," Koeman said in March.
"In the Netherlands, he plays further back but we do it with two pivots, whilst at Barcelona he plays only with one and two midfielders, or sometimes four midfielders. The position he has now is different from with the national team and Ajax, so he has to learn to play higher. It's not all negative, but for me his best position is further back and I think we would have seen better performances from him there.”
It sounds like Koeman will be looking to play De Jong in a slightly deeper position than what he’s been playing at Barcelona. The Dutch midfielder arrived in Catalonia in January 2019, for a fee worth around €75 million and Koeman will be hoping to get the very best out of him like he's done for the national team.
Pace on the wings
"Above all a team needs a footballer with speed. Look at the amount of problems that Vinicius Jr caused Barcelona. Now, they don't have one that comes deep and looks to touch the ball a lot. I saw Ansu Fati doing very well because of his speed, and they need a footballer like him, because the rest play to receive the ball,” Koeman also said in March.
Koeman used the likes of Quincy Promes and Ryan Babel on the wings for his Netherlands side, with the wingers providing plenty of pace.
Could he look to use Fati and Ousmane Dembele in a similar way, with Messi playing more centrally?
"I see two aspects. One is intensity. Like it or not, today the great teams play at a very high tempo for 90 minutes, and it's difficult for Barcelona to deal with that," he said.
"We saw it in the famous game against Liverpool, but also in the Supercopa de Espana against Atletico Madrid this year.
"Barcelona played for 80 minutes, but were disconnected in the last 10, whilst Atletico were more intense and fresher and they beat them. The second point? They can't dominate matches as they once did, and for that Barcelona have to return to their hallmarks, because it's part of their DNA. Barcelona must always have control, but more effective control."
Koeman know Barca can’t deal with the intensity of some sides and they need to go back to controlling games like they did with Andres Iniesta and Xavi used to do.
The old guard
"Barcelona are no longer the same as a few years ago because they don't have the players they had before," Koeman told Sport.
"Only Pique, Busquets and Messi remain from that spine but all three are over 30 years old.
"It's the law of life, it happened to me, the Dream Team at Barcelona, the Dutch team of 1988 with Van Basten, Gullit and Rijkaard. Nothing lasts forever and you have to know how to refresh things, and sometimes you have to understand that to dominate again, first you must spend a few years in the wilderness."
Koeman seems to acknowledge that he may need to offload some ageing Barca players and bring in some fresh blood - even if that means a couple of years of mediocrity. That means the likes of Gerard Pique, Arturo Vidal and Luis Suarez could be sacrificed.
"I'm always in favour of playing with home-grown players because they know exactly how Barcelona should play, but it may be that in certain positions you don't have a player with the necessary talent, so you have to look outside," Koeman stated.
"I don't know the level that Barcelona's youth academy is currently at, but you always have to look for players there first, and then go abroad. We're Dutch and we're not afraid to put young people into the team, we're used to it. I always say that when I have a 30-year-old player and a 22-year-old player, with the same level of performance, the 22-year-old must be favoured because he is the future. If they have the quality, you have to use academy players."
Great news for the likes of Fati, Riqui Puig, Alex Collado, Ronald Araujo, Inaki Pena and Monchu then…
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