How does Ronald Koeman solve a problem like Barcelona?
After Andrea Pirlo took over at Juventus, club legends returning to coach their former side is nothing new but incoming Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman may have the toughest task of the lot.
The Catalans’ 8-2 Champions League quarter-final defeat to Bayern Munich sent shockwaves around world football. But will it be the watershed moment Barca and crucially Lionel Messi need?
Koeman was putting together a strong Holland side, however the lure of restoring Barca to the top of world football was the job he was waiting for.
But on his return, there’s a lot on the Dutchman’s plate; we look at what could be top of his in-tray at the Camp Nou…
Keeping Lionel Messi
In 2018, Lionel Messi promised his beloved Barca fans that he’d deliver them another Champions League. But in 2020 that promise looks further away than ever.
And with talk that the 33-year old could be on his way out, Koeman must persuade the Argentine his future remains at the Camp Nou.
Messi continues to mesmerise, but he hasn’t quite had the pieces around him like he did in Barca’s heyday.
Koeman will need to ensure his captain sticks it out as he rebuilds this Barcelona side.
Building around De Jong
Evolution or revolution? However you spin in it, the club must start getting the best out of Frenkie de Jong.
The 23-year-old has had a stop-start first season and when fit has found it hard to find his best form.
Koeman will know of his qualities from the national team and may look at the midfield as his first big project.
It could mean wholesale changes in the engine room with Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitic on the way out. Especially with the imminent arrival of Juventus’ Miralem Pjanic.
Bought from Ajax last summer, De Jong will hope Koeman is his best chance of making Barca a home.
Letting go some big hitters
As touched on, now is the time for Barcelona to pull it all down and start again. Off-the-field changes will be led by President Josep Maria Bartomeu but Koeman will have to stamp his authority on the pitch.
The likes of Sergio Busquets, Vidal, Rakitic and even Luis Suarez may have to move on and make room for a new wave of talent.
Youth products Riqui Puig and Carles Alena could feature more, while there could be a second chance for Ousmane Dembele and maybe Philippe Coutinho too.
Jordi Alba has been one of the best left backs of his generation but could he free up some funds to re-shape the defence?
Time will tell how decisive Barca will be, but life without Messi still seems unimaginable. Regaining their strangle-hold in La Liga is one thing, but it’s the Champions League they really want.