Former Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman has spoken about his successor Xavi Hernandez and the future of midfielder Frenkie de Jong at Camp Nou.
Speaking at a charity event in Spain (h/t MARCA), former Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman has aimed a dig at his successor at Camp Nou, Xavi Hernandez, while also opining on the future of Frenkie de Jong amid exit links.
The Dutchman was handed the reins of Barcelona in the summer of 2020 as he came in to replace Quique Setien but never really managed to win over the supporters at Camp Nou, while returning president Joan Laporta also did not seem to place much faith in him. Koeman’s future was a subject of intense speculation last summer. But Barcelona decided to stick with him.
But after a poor start to the season that saw them drop to ninth in La Liga, the Catalans swung the axe in October last year before replacing him with another club legend in Xavi Hernandez. The 42-year-old has taken the team back to second place in the La Liga standings, although, recent performances have left a lot to be desired.
Koeman now aimed a sly dig at his successor, stating that Barcelona are much farther apart from Real Madrid at the top of the table than they were when he was sacked. But he insisted that there have been improvements made and hoped that Xavi will be given more time by Laporta to get things right.
"Xavi? He has surely improved some things. They've bought three players who can play upfront. It's not good to compare. When I left, Barcelona was eight points behind and now they are almost twice as far behind. It's not good to compare." #FCB
-Ronald Koeman pic.twitter.com/g4AVNrPHrM
— Football Talk (@Football_TaIk) April 29, 2022
“When I left we were eight points. Now it’s almost double. Surely they have improved in some things. They have signed three strikers or three players who can play up front. It is not good to compare. Xavi’s task It’s just as complicated as me. There’s no need to lie, if you lose the last home games it’s for something,” Koeman said.
“This is the reality of Barcelona today. The team need time to return to what they were and, therefore, I ask for peace of mind. We have to think long-term, trust and support the coach,” he added.
One of his former proteges, Frenkie de Jong, has been heavily linked with an exit of late amidst interest from Manchester United. The Netherlands international is believed to have become unsettled at Camp Nou ever since Koeman was sacked and is considering his future at the Catalan outfit beyond this season.
But Koeman opined that Barcelona are unlikely to sell de Jong in the summer, saying: “Barça don’t want to sell Frenkie. He’s a great player, a great midfielder. He’s gone through some games where he hasn’t been at his level. I don’t doubt him, for me he’s a permanent fixture with the Netherlands. I hope he comes back.”
Koeman has been out of management since being sacked by Barcelona. But the Dutchman will be returning as the head coach of the Netherlands national team in 2023, following the FIFA World Cup in Qatar later this year.