Barcelona have sacked Ronald Koeman following their 1-0 La Liga defeat to Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday night, which was their third in the last four league games. Club legend Koeman’s tenure ends after 67 matches with Radamel Falcao’s goal the final nail in the coffin for the Dutchman.
The former Southampton and Everton manager, who also coached the Netherlands, replaced Quique Setien in August 2020 but has lasted just 14 months in the role.
An official club statement read: “Barcelona has relieved Ronald Koeman of his duties as first-team coach.
“The president of the club, Joan Laporta, informed him of the decision after the defeat against Rayo Vallecano. Ronald Koeman will say goodbye to the squad on Thursday at the Ciutat Esportiva.
“FC Barcelona wishes to thank him for his service to the Club and wishes him all the best in his professional career.”
The five-time European champions also suffered defeat to Real Madrid at the Nou Camp in El Clasico last weekend after which Koeman’s car was surrounded by angry supporters post-match as he left the stadium.
The defeat to Rayo Vallecano means Barca now sit ninth in La Liga and six points off fierce rivals Real Madrid who are top of the table.
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On top of winning just four of their 10 league matches, Barca were hammered 3-0 by both Bayern Munich and Benfica in the Champions League group stages.
After a narrow home win over Dynamo Kiev, they sit third in the group but are likely to need to win two of their final three games to progress to the knockout rounds and avoid an ignominious drop into the Europa League.
Barca won the Copa del Rey last season under Koeman but crashed out of the Champions League in the last 16 to Paris Saint-Germain.
In the league, Atletico Madrid were crowned champions of Spain finishing seven points above Barca who ended third with their lowest points tally since 2008.
Luis Suarez helped fire Diego Simeone’s side to glory after a controversial exit from Barca which was engineered by the 58-year-old coach.
The Blaugrana have been further hampered since then by the exit of the club’s best ever player Lionel Messi in the summer, the Argentine making a teary-eyed exit to join PSG due to Barca’s financial problems.
Since then, the Catalan giants have only regressed further having seriously struggled this season after only being able to make free transfer additions in the summer, bringing in the likes of Sergio Aguero and Memphis Depay for nothing.
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Barca’s board have now finally decided the current situation is unsustainable and will pursue a replacement for former centre-back Koeman – who scored the 1992 Champions League-winning goal for Barca against Sampdoria and also won four league titles as a player in just six years at the club – in the coming days.
Belgium national team boss Roberto Martinez and club icon Xavi Hernandez, in charge of Qatari club Al Sadd, are the two main favourites for the now-vacant job.
Speaking earlier in October, former Wigan and Everton boss Martinez hinted he could be persuaded to quit his current role to move to Catalonia.
The Spaniard said: “In football, you never know what tomorrow will bring. I get up every morning as if I were working for Belgium until the last day of my contract, but I realise that many circumstances can happen along the way.”
Xavi said: “My idea is to coach Barcelona one day. I’ve never hidden this, it’s my dream. I don’t know if it will happen or not, whether they even need me or not.
“But for the moment I’m also happy at Al Sadd and very proud of being here. If any offer comes, it will be evaluated and then we will try to decide, but for the time being I’m very happy here.”
Meanwhile, speaking after his final match in charge, Koeman had declared: “I don’t know if my future is in danger.
“It was difficult for us to get into the game, they put a lot of pressure on us. We’ve been superior. The result isn’t fair, but it’s there and we can’t change it.
“The game we lost today isn’t a problem of attitude or play. The team’s level has dropped. We’ve lost very effective players, which also counts.”
Days earlier, he’d said: “I’m a grown up and I know how these things work. I want to enjoy the time that I have left, if it is eight years, six months, one year, or some weeks.”