Club’s President, Bartomeu hangs on
Search for new manager heightens
Ronald Koeman emerges favourite
BY VICTOR OSOWOCHI – Barcelona’s humiliating exit from this year’s UEFA Champions League is already leaving in its wake some casualties within the Spanish club’s fold
Latest to join the victims’ list is Eric Abidal who has been relieved of his post as Sporting Director at the Catalan club
The club, which announced the sack in a statement on Tuesday, a day after dismissing Coach Quique Setien, said; “FC Barcelona and Eric Abidal have reached an agreement for the ending of the contract that united them.”
Thank You Goodbye
Posted on Barca’s website, the statement said; “The club publicly expresses its gratitude to Eric Abidal for the professionalism, commitment, dedication and positive and close treatment towards all the areas that make up the Barca family, and wishes him luck and success in the future.”
Abidal’s final act as technical manager was showing Setien the exit door at Camp Nou.
Like Coach Setien, Abidal is paying the price after Barca ended a season of internal conflict by surrendering the La Liga title to Real Madrid and then suffering an embarrassing 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-final.
It was Barcelona’s first season without a trophy since 2007 and Setien’s exit was announced on Monday after an emergency board meeting at Camp Nou, which lasted almost six hours.
Abidal, a former French international left-back who won 67 caps, played for Barcelona from 2007 to 2013, during which time he suffered health issues and underwent a liver transplant.
Appointed Sporting Director in June 2018, Abidal came under fire for his handling of the dismissal of Coach Ernesto Valverde in January 2020
The Frenchman and other officials had visited Al-Sadd’s Qatar Coach Xavi to offer him the position while Valverde was still in charge, but the former Barca legend refused.
The Messi’s Connection
Abidal blamed the players for Valverde’s dismissal in an interview, provoking an angry reaction from the club’s normally discreet superstar Lionel Messi.
Messi then posted a message on Instagram urging Abidal to “take responsibility for his decisions” and “name names”, warning that his former team-mate’s statement would tar the entire squad – the Argentine included – if he didn’t go into specifics.
While Abidal’s departure may go some way to pleasing Messi, there are many who believe a full backroom restructuring is required – starting with President Josep Maria Bartomeu, whose time in charge has been fraught with negative headlines.
A slew of disastrous transfers have fans calling for the supremo’s head, but the man himself has indicated that he will not stand down before the presidential elections in March of 2021.
After announcing Setien’s departure on Monday, the club promised “profound changes” within its fold going forward.
“This is the first decision taken regarding the extensive restructuring of Barca’s first team, which will be done in agreement with the current technical management and the new coach, which will be unveiled in the coming days,” the Catalan club said on Monday evening.
Already, speculations are rife that Netherlands manager, Ronald Koeman and former has emerged as the frontrunner to succeed Setien.
In his short stint at the Nou Camp, Coach Setien oversaw 16 win; four draws; and five defeats from the 25 games in charge.
The 57 years old Koeman, who quit active football in 1997, has been manager of the Netherlands national team since 2018. He is the younger brother of his former international teammate, Erwin Koeman and the son of former Dutch international Martin Koeman.
Born on March 21, 1963, Koeman enjoyed an illustrious career playing for Barcelona between 1989 and 1995. Playing both as a defender and midfielder, he made 192 appearances in Barca’s shirt and had 67 goals to his name – With agency reports