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Sources: Koeman, Laporta meet to discuss future

Ronald Koeman is meeting with Barcelona president Joan Laporta at the club’s Camp Nou offices on Tuesday to decide whether he remains in charge of the club next season, sources have told ESPN.

Koeman has one year to run on his contract at Barca but ESPN revealed earlier this month there are growing doubts among the board over his long-term future.

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Despite winning the Copa del Rey, a run of just two wins in six games at the end the season as Barca’s title hopes extinguished has further increased the pressure on Koeman.

Sources told ESPN last week that Laporta was sounding out possible replacements, although the lack of credible alternatives and the club’s financial problems — they would have to pay Koeman off — could see the Dutch coach given a second season.

“I don’t think it was my last [game as coach],” Koeman said after Saturday’s season-ending 1-0 win at Eibar. “I have a contract and… I don’t know.

“You [the media] talk a lot about this but I am relaxed. If there is something the club want to change, they have to speak with me.”

Koeman, 58, left his role as Netherlands coach to replace Quique Setien as Barca coach last August following the club’s 8-2 humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

He took over at one of the most testing times in the club’s recent history. Barca had just completed a trophyless season for the first time since 2007-08 and the coronavirus pandemic had accelerated the club’s financial problems, with gross debt rising to €1.2 billion.

Meanwhile, Koeman had to oversee a clear out of the club’s playing staff, with Luis Suarez, Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitic all leaving, at the same time as trying to convince wantaway Lionel Messi to stay.

Koeman has turned to youngsters to regenerate an ageing Barca side, with Oscar Mingueza, Ronald Araujo, Pedri and Ilaix Moriba all brought into the first team under him.

Off the pitch, there was a movement to remove the president who appointed Koeman, Josep Maria Bartomeu, who eventually resigned in October. That left Barca rudderless for five months, until Joan Laporta was elected in March.

Despite all that, and having no money to invest in the squad in January, Barca won the Copa del Rey under Koeman and were still in the title race going into the final two weeks of the season.

Barca lost four of their first 10 league games and at one point were 12 points behind Atletico Madrid, who eventually won the league in the final week of the season.

A 19-game unbeaten run at the turn of the year helped Barca cut that gap on Atletico and, before losing to Granada in April, they had their destiny in their own hands.

However, just two wins in their final six games saw Barca tail off at the end of the campaign as they finished outside the top two for the first time in 13 years and failed to make 80 points for the first time since before Pep Guardiola was appointed.

In the Champions League, Barca were knocked out in the round of 16 by Paris Saint-Germain, losing 5-2 on aggregate after a 4-1 defeat a Camp Nou in the first leg.

Earlier in the day, Laporta met with Georginio Wijnaldum‘s agent Humphry Nijman and lawyer Jan Kabalt to discuss a three-year deal for the Liverpool midfielder.

Wijnaldum, 30, is out of contract in the summer and has drawn interest from Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter Milan as well.

However, a source at Barca said the chances of the Dutch midfielder making the move to Camp Nou were “looking good” following Tuesday’s meeting.

Wijnaldum would be one of several players to join Barca on a free transfer this summer. ESPN previously revealed that agreements have been reached with Eric Garcia and Sergio Aguero, while talks are ongoing with Memphis Depay.

Sourced from ESPN

EltasZone Sportswriters, Sports Analysts, Opinion columnists, editorials and op-eds. Analysis from The Zone Team
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