Ronald Koeman is no fool. He would have been acutely aware of the huge rebuild required at Barcelona this summer before accepting the role of head coach.
The 57-year-old left his previous job as the Netherlands’ boss in order to replace Quique Setien at Camp Nou earlier this week.
But Koeman landed his dream job in less than ideal circumstances.
Just days earlier, Barcelona had suffered one of the most humiliating results in their 120-year history: *that* 8-2 defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-finals.
Lionel Messi, the team’s star man and arguably the greatest footballer of all time, then informed the club of his desire to leave.
Koeman spoke with Messi, who interrupted his holiday in order to discuss matters with his new boss, on Thursday.
Messi reportedly told the Dutchman that he sees himself more likely to leave Barça than to stay.
However, Koeman is understandably keen to work with Messi and wants to build his team around the legendary Argentine forward.
Koeman and Barcelona will do everything in their power to keep Messi, who has one year left on his lucrative contract, at the club.
But the newly-appointed Barça boss has now made decisions over the futures of four other key members of the squad, according to Spanish publication AS.
Linked with a shock move to Fulham earlier this week, Koeman wants Pique to stay.
The 33-year-old said in the aftermath of the Bayern defeat that he would be the first player to leave if Barcelona so wish.
However, Koeman believes the experienced defender still has a role to play at Camp Nou next season.
Keeping Suarez at Barça might be one way to convince Messi to stay put this summer. The two South Americans are close friends on and off the pitch.
However, Koeman has made up his mind to offload the Uruguayan forward, whose best days are now behind him.
Ajax are keen to re-sign 33-year-old.
One of Barcelona’s most important players over the past decade, Koeman will inform Sergio Busquets that he does NOT feature in his plans for the new project.
Busquets only turned 32 last month but his performance-levels have dipped over the past 12-18 months.
One of the best midfielders of his generation, Busquets will not be short of potential suitors this summer.
Jordi Alba, another player who has linked up so well with Messi over the years, will also be told by Koeman that he is now surplus to requirements at Camp Nou.
Barcelona’s new manager wants another left-back to replace the 31-year-old.
In summary, Suarez, Busquets and Alba will all be told to find new clubs by Koeman over the coming days.
Pique, however, will still be plying his trade with his current employers.
Koeman has also hinted that Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann will be playing alongside Pique next season.
"I will play him in the same position as with Holland,” the Dutchman was quoted telling NOS by The Mirror. "I went to see a game of Barca and saw him playing on another position and thought: I would never do this.
"You invest so much in a player, you spend so much money, and you play him in a different position.
"You have to play Frenkie on the position where he has the efficiency that you expect from him.
"He showed that at Ajax, he showed at that Holland, and this is where he will play at Barça too. He has to play in a role that suits him the best."
He added: "The exact same story goes for Griezmann. With all due respect, but Griezmann is no winger.
"Griezmann has to play on a position where he is used to play, and that fits his qualities. As a coach, it all starts with playing your players in the right position."
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