Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets to get the boot as part of dressing room shake-up with Donny van de Beek and Malang Sarr incoming to refresh a side at ‘rock bottom’… how Barcelona could look under new boss Ronald Koeman
- Barcelona were left at ‘rock bottom’ after their 8-2 humiliation by Bayern Munich
- Players and executives called for major change and that looks on the horizon
- Ronald Koeman was announced as Quique Setien’s successor on Wednesday
- He has an interest in both Donny van de Beek and ‘makes him a priority signing’
- Sportsmail looks at how Koeman’s Barcelona could line up for 2020-21 season
Barcelona have gone trophyless for the first time since 2007-08 and even before their 8-2 mauling at the hands of Bayern Munich knew they needed a squad shake-up.
With Ronald Koeman walking through the door as successor to the failed Quique Setien, senior players have good reason to look over their shoulder.
Koeman rocked the boat with dressing-room veterans in his last spell in LaLiga at Valencia, and it would be foolish to bet against something similar happening once he gets his feet under the table at Barcelona.
Lionel Messi (right) knows Barcelona need a rebuild after their Champions League humiliation
Ronald Koeman is coming in as the successor to Quique Setien and is plotting team changes
There will be a few untouchables: Lionel Messi, provided he wants to stay; Frenkie de Jong is locked in that central midfield role given his national team boss is the one arriving; and big things are expected of La Masia product Ansu Fati. President Josep Bartomeu also insisted Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele, Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Clement Lenglet and Nelson Semedo are also seen as ‘non-transferable’.
Ajax’s Donny van de Beek is seen as a ‘priority signing’ for Koeman while there is also reported interest in centre back Malang Sarr.
So just how could Barcelona line up under Koeman? Sportsmail takes a look…
GOALKEEPER – MARC-ANDRE TER STEGEN
Surgery will keep Ter Stegen out for the first few weeks of Koeman’s tenure but long term there is no disputing it will be the German between the sticks.
When Manuel Neuer hangs up his gloves Ter Stegen will be the undisputed German No 1 and while he was embarrassed in the rout by Bayern, he has proven himself to be an elite goalkeeper since moving to the Nou Camp from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2014.
He’s made more than 230 appearances and has got 96 clean sheets for the club to date.
Barcelona have a number of problem areas but goalkeeper is not one of them.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen was woeful against Bayern but is as good as they come in that position
RIGHT BACK – SERGI ROBERTO
Pep Guardiola loves the versatility that Roberto brings and it is difficult to imagine Koeman will feel otherwise.
Nelson Semedo started right back for the battering by Bayern and got schooled by Alphonso Davies. Any incoming manager would have been alarmed by the fallibility of Semedo and so it is unlikely he continues in that role.
With priority signings further up the pitch, expect Koeman to lean on Roberto’s versatility to fill down that right side.
CENTRE BACK – CLEMENT LENGLET
In a team full of stars, it is quite easy to overlook Lenglet and what he adds to this current incarnation of the side.
He does not grab headlines like Sergio Ramos or Virgil van Dijk but Lenglet has plenty to offer and it is likely Gerard Pique, eight years his senior, is moved on before he is.
The Frenchman is unassuming but is growing in his role, adding a goal threat to his game as he showed against Napoli in the Champions League last-16.
Clement Lenglet is 25 and his youth on current partner Gerard Pique could prove decisive
CENTRE BACK – MALANG SARR
Right, some signings. Firstly, from a financial standpoint this one makes a lot of sense.
Sarr is a free agent since leaving Nice in the summer and according to SPORT, Barcelona’s sporting director Eric Abidal has already made contact with the player’s representatives and informed them of their interest.
Pique openly volunteered himself up to move on if it meant the club could move forward and be successful again so a new defender is imperative this summer.
Sarr is a left-footed centre back who Nice were keen to keep, only to be unable to come to an agreement.
With finances stretched amid the coronavirus pandemic, a free transfer to freshen up their defensive ranks would represent very smart business.
Koeman is reportedly keen to bolster his defensive options with the signing of Malang Sarr
LEFT BACK – JUNIOR FIRPO
One of the big decisions that Koeman is reportedly ready to make is to move Jordi Alba on.
According to El Periodico, Koeman is planning a clearout that could see six major first-team players depart the club, and one of those is left back Alba.
Alba is 31 and commanding a sizeable wage at the Nou Camp. With a desire to bring the wage bill down considerably and at the same time reduce the average age of the squad, Junior Firpo, 23, could be in line to thrust himself into the first XI.
Standing at more than 6ft tall and possessing genuine pace is a fierce combination for the modern full-back and while there have been rumours of being used as a potential sweetener to land Lautaro Martinez, Koeman’s desire to ditch the elder statesman of the dressing room could prove a blessing for Firpo.
MIDFIELDER – DONNY VAN DE BEEK
The Ajax midfielder is fast becoming that every top side in Europe wants but never seems to go out and get.
That could now change with Koeman ready to ask his new employers to bring in Van de Beek as a priority signing, according to French news outlet Le10Sport.
Van de Beek was part of the Ajax side who reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2019, before being knocked out in cruel fashion by Tottenham Hotspur, and at 23 still has plenty of years ahead of him.
The struggles of Frenkie de Jong this season could be abolished with a familiar face alongside him in the Barcelona midfield next season. This move seems like a good fit for all parties.
Koeman has observed Van de Beek closely and is said to view him as a ‘priority’ signing
MIDFIELDER – FRENKIE DE JONG
As mentioned, De Jong struggled to replicate his form at Ajax under first Valverde and then Setien in a season of mixed results.
But Koeman would represent the ideal appointment having already worked with the former Southampton and Everton boss in the Dutch national team.
De Jong has all the qualities to be the jewel in Barcelona’s midfield for many years to come but the team has to play to his strengths.
Barcelona are planning a clear-out and that could help shift the focus onto De Jong but a second season needs to show signs of improvement on the first. If Van de Beek arrives, De Jong himself could feel like a new signing.
MIDFIELDER – MIRALEM PJANIC
It is difficult to imagine Koeman making this move but nonetheless the deal was struck before Setien was given the axe and so expect Pjanic to add a dose of experience to what would be a youthful midfield trio.
Pushing Sergio Busquets out would be a big power play by Koeman and so he needs a player like Pjanic in there to ensure all experience is not lost.
He is still a threat from set-pieces – although getting them off Messi isn’t easy – and his passing remains a major asset. He won’t have the legs to go box-to-box but he has Van de Beek and De Jong to do that for him in this side.
Miralem Pjanic (left) has already agreed a deal to join the club this summer from Juventus
RIGHT WING – ANSU FATI
In a season of disappointment for Barcelona, Fati was one of the biggest reasons supporters could raise a smile.
A strong contender for the 2020 Golden Boy award handed out by Italian newspaper Tuttosport, the 17-year-old looks back on a season where he broke a number of records.
Fati became the youngest player to start at the Nou Camp, the youngest player to score and assist in LaLiga, the youngest player to make his Champions League debut with Barcelona and the youngest goal scorer in the tournament.
So Fati is going nowhere. Next season he will be targeting even greater heights.
STRIKER – LIONEL MESSI
Priority No 1 for Koeman is ending talk of Messi actually leaving the club.
Messi has lost faith in the club’s hierarchy and talk of an exit could drive forward presidential elections but it seems unfathomable that Koeman is plotting to press on at Barcelona without the captain of the team in his ranks.
Thirty-on goals this season shows this team’s reliance on him papering over the cracks elsewhere. Losing him would be unforgivable.
He will call some of the shots, would demand excellence from Koeman and wouldn’t hesitate in getting him axed if things go awry.
But a player many see as the greatest ever has to be kept at all costs.
Keeping hold of Messi (pictured) must be the No 1 priority for Koeman after his appointment
LEFT WING – ANTOINE GRIEZMANN
Ever since he arrived, the big build-up to leaving Atletico Madrid, the scrutiny on Griezmann has been immense.
He doesn’t get on with Messi were the noises coming out of Barcelona. He cannot replicate the same form at Atletico in this system.
And yet, when Bartomeu sat down for an interview with the club’s TV channel and rattled off the eight stars who, under no circumstances, would be sold this summer, Griezmann found himself propelled into the untouchable bracket.
Neymar would be Messi’s preferred partner in attack but there were moments of promise in a largely frustrating season for Griezmann that suggests a shake-up at the club can bring the best out of him.
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