Barcelona braced for high-profile exits under Koeman as president calls for 'drastic measures'


  • Football
  • Wednesday, 19 Aug 2020

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - UEFA Nations League Semi Final - Netherlands v England - Estadio D. Afonso Henriques, Guimaraes, Portugal - June 6, 2019 Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman before the match REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

BARCELONA (Reuters) - New Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman is expected to oversee a massive overhaul of the squad as he leads them into a new era after their weaknesses were exposed in the 8-2 thrashing by Bayern Munich, president Josep Maria Bartomeu has said.

Koeman, one of Barca's greatest ever players who was confirmed as the club's new coach on Wednesday, will oversee the transition alongside Ramon Planes, the new chief technical secretary after Eric Abidal left the club.

"The technical secretary and new coach will take drastic measures and they will affect certain players, who we should give a proper farewell to," Bartomeu said in an interview with the club's official television channel on Tuesday.

Bartomeu did not say which players would depart but referred to seven players who were not for sale: captain Lionel Messi, goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, defenders Clement Lenglet and Nelson Semedo, plus recent signings Antoine Griezmann, Frenkie de Jong and French winger Ousmane Dembele.

Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets, who have been at the club since 2008 and are the longest-serving players after Messi, were omitted from Bartomeu's list, meaning they could face an exit after 12 trophy-laden years in the first team.

Jordi Alba, Ivan Rakitic and Luis Suarez, crucial members of the team that won the treble in 2015 as well as the La Liga titles in 2016, 2018 and 2019, were also absent.

"These are players who have given their best days to the club and been part of the club's best years. They have won a lot of trophies and had a lot of success," added Bartomeu.

"Some of those decisions have already been taken by others and some will be taken soon by different people. The players will not be consulted on these decisions. It's very important to listen to opinions but the coach and technical secretary will take the decision together."

Barca will face a challenge in selling some players due to having the biggest wage bill in world soccer, at a time when all clubs are facing serious financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has stripped them of matchday revenue and ticket sales.

Bartomeu added that the club are still trying to sign Argentina forward Lautaro Martinez from Inter Milan but said it was now "impossible" to bring Neymar back to the club as Paris St Germain no longer wish to sell the Brazilian.

(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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