Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman refused to take questions from the media on Wednesday as he begged to be given more time to rebuild the team following a summer of upheaval at Camp Nou.
The uncertainty surrounding Koeman’s future at Barca has grown since Monday’s 1-1 draw with Granada, which followed a 3-0 defeat to Bayern Munich. Sources told ESPN on Tuesday the club are already exploring replacements.
Koeman, 58, was due to speak in a news conference on Wednesday ahead of Thursday’s trip to Cadiz in LaLiga. However, he read out a short statement instead before declaring he would not respond to questions from the gathered the media at the club’s training ground.
He asked for patience and said it would be a successful season if Barca can finish high in LaLiga, adding it would be a “miracle” if they did well in Europe.
“The club and the manager are carrying out a reconstruction process,” Koeman said. “The club’s financial position is related to sporting matters and vice versa. That means we have to rebuild the football team, without making big investments. That needs time.
“The young talent we have can become world stars in a couple of years. The good thing about rebuilding the team is that the young players will have chances, like Xavi and [Andres] Iniesta did in their day. But we ask for patience.
“Finishing high in the league would be a success. European football is a good school for these young players but we can’t expect miracles in the Champions League. The defeat to Bayern Munich has to be viewed from that perspective.”
Koeman had to deal with the loss of star player Lionel Messi this summer, while Antoine Griezmann also left as Barca fought to reduce their wage bill to be able to comply with LaLiga’s spending limits.
Despite that, Barca remain unbeaten in four league games this season, although the performances in games against Getafe and Granada, coupled with the Champions League defeat to Bayern, have increased the pressure on Koeman.
“The process we are in means the squad deserves unconditional backing,” Koeman added. “In words and in actions — support the process we’re carrying out. I know the press recognise this process.
“It’s not the first time in the club’s history that this happens. We count on your support in these difficult times. As a squad, we are happy with the support from the fans that we had in the game at home against Granada.”
Results and performances are not the only reason Barca are considering getting rid of Koeman. Sources explain that the coach’s relationship with president Joan Laporta is also fractured.
Laporta asked Koeman for a reflection period of two weeks in the summer, during which time he sounded out other managers. The president, elected in March, held talks with Hansi Flick’s camp but the former Bayern Munich coach had already agreed to take over the Germany national team. Belgium coach Roberto Martinez was another option at the time.
Koeman has since said he was “upset” with how Laporta behaved and the fact he has not backed him. Koeman has also criticised the president for suggesting he does not have complete control over playing issues.
Sources, meanwhile, say the board have grown increasingly frustrated by the continued comments made by the coach in the Dutch media.
ESPN reported on Tuesday that Barca could afford to pay off Koeman — which was one of the hurdles in the summer — but that there is no consensus over a replacement. Martinez is once again a candidate, along with former midfielder Xavi Hernandez, among others.
Koeman, who was appointed by previous president Josep Maria Bartomeu in August 2020, won the Copa del Rey in his first season in charge but has had to deal with problems on and off the pitch throughout his tenure.
Barca’s gross debt stands at close to €1.4 billion and has forced the club to move on a number of their biggest earners, with Messi, Griezmann, Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal among those to leave in the last 13 months.