It was a great former player, in Pep Guardiola, Barcelona turned to when appointing a new manager to transform them when last they were at such a low. In that respect, Ronald Koeman’s arrival as the successor to Quique Setién gives them significant reason to be optimistic about their hopes of challenging Real Madrid, who with Zinedine Zidane are also succeeding under one of their greatest former players.
If Koeman is aware of the demands involved in playing for one of the world’s biggest and most successful clubs, he has already proved himself capable of rebuilding a squad that has reached the end of its cycle. At Southampton, he oversaw the arrival of Virgil van Dijk, among others, having arrived at the same time that the influential Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Luke Shaw, Calum Chambers and Rickie Lambert were being sold, and he then inspired them to qualify for the Europa League. His knowledge of the talented Frenkie de Jong, from their time together with the Netherlands national team, is also expected to prove crucial given it is De Jong who is expected to eventually succeed the great Lionel Messi as the leader of Barça’s team.