With Jorge Sampaoli now rejected as the possible next Barcelona manager, the Catalan club might be looking to go Dutch for their next big decision
After Luis Enrique announced that he will be leaving Barcelona at the end of the season, a big rumour mill has started on who should succeed the Spaniard as the next Camp Nou manager. One of the leading candidates is former player and current Everton manager Ronald Koeman. The Dutchman has had a long-standing desire to coach at the Camp Nou, which could finally be fulfilled this summer.
Koeman is no stranger to the club, having played for Barcelona between 1989 and 1995. The sweeper was a key part of the team that are seen as one of the best in the club’s history. Under the management of footballing legend Johan Cruyff, the Blaugrana won four consecutive La Liga’s and captured their first-ever Champions League thanks to a career-defining free-kick goal by Koeman himself.
It was a hugely successful spell for Koeman and it created a special bond with the club. It was no surprise that after his retirement, Koeman quickly focused on managing with one goal in mind: Barcelona. He started off as assistant manager of Holland and Barcelona before becoming his own man by taking over at Dutch side Vitesse in 2000.
Soon Koeman joined Ajax and won two league titles in five years with the club. In 2005, Koeman decided to leave the capital in order to become the boss of SL Benfica. It wasn’t a lengthy spell as Het Kanon (The Cannon) left Portugal after just 12 months to become PSV manager. And after one season back in Holland, Koeman was already on the move with Valencia wanting him. Koeman didn’t think twice, because Valencia was the perfect springboard to Barcelona.
It was a great next step, but the reality was very different; Koeman was sacked after six months in charge of a notoriously tricky institution. His management career was at a dead end. Koeman’s Barcelona dream was further away than ever.
In contrast, now, seven years later, Koeman has enjoyed outstanding managerial stints at Feyenoord and Southampton and is doing very well at Everton. In many ways, Koeman has been able to turn the tables around and even get himself back in contention for the Barca job. And when we look at if he fits the profile, only ticked boxes appear.
First, Koeman has played for the club and knows the club inside out which is something the board ideally wants. Secondly, Koeman is a civilized manager who is a good representative for the club unlike other candidates like Jorge Sampaoli. Another factor that plays in Koeman’s favour is the outstanding relationship the Dutch have with Barcelona.
From Frank Rijkaard to Johan Neeskens, the Spanish heavyweights have always had a Dutch-tint to their sides. If Koeman comes in, that famous Dutch relationship with the club could become as strong as it was once again. And although Ronald says he’s happy at Goodison Park, one call from Catalonia and he’s on the first flight to Spain.