Ronald Koeman is showing signs of ‘convincing’ Barcelona crop of superstars that he is the right man for the job amid a tumultuous period in the club’s history, according to reports from Spain.
Koeman was installed as the Catalan club’s new head coach in the summer and was tasked with helping the club emerge from rancor within the club which cost former manager Quique Setien his job and led to a cull of the team’s backroom staff.
The Dutchman, a former player at the Camp Nou, landed in the hot seat at a time when Lionel Messi, inarguably the club’s greatest ever player, was attempting to engineer a move away from the Nou Camp – rumors of which were initially strengthened by reports of a less-than-successful first meeting between the two where Koeman outlined his philosophy for the club moving forward.
But if Messi and the club’s other galaxy of stars where initially hesitant about Koeman’s methods, those fears appear to have been waylaid according to reports from Spanish media which suggest that he has won over Barca’s most influential group of players – Messi included.
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According to the publication ‘Sport’, Koeman’s team have been impressed by the culture of ‘open dialogue’ he has established inside the Barcelona corridors of power, while also being impressed by the impact he has had on training sessions.
Furthermore, several other senior players like Antoine Griezmann, Sergio Busquets and Philippe Coutinho are also understood to have bought into Koeman’s training methods amid an understanding that the culture at the club was in need of rejuvenation following Setien’s reign.
Speaking earlier this week, Koeman revealed details of his first meeting with Messi which had been initially reported in the press as being a contentious one.
“After signing as coach, I immediately contacted Leo,” Koeman told NOS. “I went to his house and talked to him about his future. His discontent was clear.
“In the end it well and from the moment he indicated he would continue, he has done everything I expect of him.“
Amid speculation of Messi reuniting with former boss Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, the Argentine superstar was eventually convinced to remain with the club for at least one more season after a dispute regarding language in his contract which Messi and his advisors suggested allowed him to leave Barcelona for free before the end of August.
However, Messi withdrew his demands after it appeared likely that the issue was destined to end up in a potentially heated court battle.
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While Koeman’s reign has been a short one thus far, there have been promising signs. Wins have been registered against Villarreal and Celta Vigo, with his only points dropped thus far coming from 1-1 home draw with Sevilla.
And while it remains early days for Koeman, the fact that Lionel Messi seems to be on board will be a crucial boost for the team as they seek to retake the La Liga crown this season from heated rivals Real Madrid.
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