Advertisement

As a soccer man for 40 years, as a connoisseur of changing room management in 20 years as a coach, and as an expert in Barça, in which he lived the best years and also the plummeting of In Milan, which led to a terrible 1994-95 season that he lived in the first person, Koeman knows that Barça has a football problem but, above all, it has the problem of a well-off, indomitable and rebellious dressing room.

Ronald Koeman's only exit message is that Messi must be “the pillar of the project.” But the rest of the sacred cows are on the eaves. DIn fact, the Dutchman, as Bartomeu slipped in the interview that was carried out on Barça TV, plans to have a face-to-face meeting with the heavyweights of the locker room to look them in the face, see what they think and also explain the football idea you have. The three main cases are those of Piqué, Busquets and Alba.

Piqué is one of the veterans who has given the best sports performance this season. However, his lifestyle, absolutely his own way, with cross-ocean travel in the middle of the season, is not exemplary in the dressing room. It is not about sporting performance, but about submitting to certain rules that Barça in general, and Koeman in particular, consider essential to restore order in the locker room. Piqué must decide if he is willing to return to a work regime that, in addition, serves as a mirror for the rest. Soccerically, it counts. But he himself has assured that he is willing to step aside if he is unable to do so.

More difficult are the cases of Busquets and Alba. Koeman wants De Jong in the No. 1 spot. Busquets, who already started as a substitute last season, is on the downward curve of his career. By descent and tactical intelligence, he can still play a good handful of games, but on the big dates he has been outmatched. Koeman wants to know if he's ready to take on a supporting role without becoming a toxic element in the locker room. If not, he will ask you to make an agreement with the club and leave.

Alba's case has a certain similarity. Offensively, Alba is still one of the best full-backs in the world if he is focused and does not have childish behaviors like in Lisbon, when he threw the ball at Skomina and was not sent off because the Slovenian wanted to look the other way. Defensively, however, he no longer holds the pressure or the physique of the big games. Nor should the position be insured. If you don't see yourself in a position to hold that role, you can find a team.

Koeman is not new to this. At Barça he was forced to live in a dressing room of vedettes, which in 1994 experienced piques like the one he himself suffered with Stoichkov, who accused him of treating him in favor of Cruyff (“I have no problems with him; if he has problems with me, he has to talk to me, and nothing else,” he said after the Bulgarian exploded after a match against Austria Vienna in the Champions League). Then, in the 1994-95 season, he saw Romario flee to Brazil and a team that had won everything dissolve like a sugar. He's bound to stop that bleeding, and he believes that in first-person conversations with the sacred cows, he can find answers.