Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid comprised LaLiga's top three for an eighth consecutive season in 2019-20.

The big three of this era in Spain's top fight have not been apart since Valencia came in third in 2011-12 - 30 points shy of second-place Barca.

The order has shuffled into various configurations since, most sensationally when Atleti pipped the Blaugrana to finish top of the pile in 2013-14.

Madrid and Barcelona have cashed in on the superclub era, aided by arguably the two finest footballers of all-time, while Atletico gradually gained the weight they once punched above to become their country's third heavy hitter.

Nevertheless, each club heads into the new campaign with cracks appearing. If the end of an empire isn't quite upon us, it might be closing in.


"There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it."

It is impossible to know whether Ronald Koeman has dwelt upon the wisdom of Oscar Wilde as he arrives at the apparent end of Barcelona's age of decadence, but there is something devastating about the timing of the Dutchman getting the job he has always coveted.

Indeed, it speaks volumes over how much Koeman wanted to come 'home' to Camp Nou that he would do so under an entirely discredited president to preside over an aging squad left somewhere close to mutiny by a humiliation of historic proportions.

Koeman did say he views Lionel Messi as key part of his project at Barca. And he has him, although there is the monumental catch of context.

In an explosive interview where he focused on everyone's fault but his own - a Leo culpa, if you will - Messi insisted he was only sticking around because Bartomeu had gone back on his word to him and made a departure financially "impossible".

"The truth is that there has been no project or anything for a long time, they juggle and cover holes as things go by," Messi told Goal Spain, in a remarkably damning inditement of those who remain his employers and team-mates.

Ivan Rakitic has gone, Luis Suarez is going and Koeman apparently wants to sign a selection of the Netherlands international players he left behind to take on the poisoned chalice of a lifetime.

As Messi allude to, decline has been eating away at Barcelona for some time. By the time they surrendered LaLiga to Real Madrid after the coronavirus hiatus - performances that effectively condemned Quique Setien's doomed reign even before the 8-2 Champions League loss to Bayern Munich - they had scored fewer goals (86), conceded more (38), had fewer shots (494), won fewer games (25) and lost more (six) than in any of their past five LaLiga seasons.

The potential saving grace - at the same time a damning indictment of the elite European game in the 21st century - is it seems there is only so far that a club on course for a $1billion record turnover before COVID-19 took hold should realistically be able to fall.

Even if the sum of Koeman's transfer incomings are some Oranje foot soldiers and Manchester City youngster Eric Garcia, a functional defensive set-up in front of the excellent Marc-Andre ter Stegen, a smooth midfield alliance between Frenkie de Jong and Miralem Pjanic and a delightful forward line featuring Messi, Antoine Griezmann, the prodigious Ansu Fati and the returning Philippe Coutinho is an assortment it is not too difficult to imagine as a championship-winning one.


Atletico do not have the luxury of mismanagement on the scale of which Josep Maria Bartomeu has shambolically overseen at Barcelona. At best they'd be Valencia; at worst they'd be playing Segunda Division football.

March's rousing Champions League triumph that unseated European champions Liverpool at Anfield showed Los Colchoneros retain an unmatched thirst for making an unholy nuisance of themselves against Europe's aristocrats.

Unfortunately, the start-up beverage spin-off that is RB Leipzig denied them another such showdown in the latter stages of the competition in Lisbon last month - a performance and result that spoke of problems that have quietly mounted to the point Simeone will struggle to shift them as he approaches nine years at the helm.

With their backs against the wall and the bit between their teeth, few teams want to face Atletico. But in games where they are expected to win and take the game to the opposition, they increasingly appear woefully short of the right moves - the transition from reactive to pro-active football beyond them.

They were favourites to beat Leipzig but played a low percentage game and paid the price, as they did over the course of 16 LaLiga draws last season. Their 14 points dropped from winning positions marked their worst return in the past five years.

That Joao Felix came off the bench against Leipzig to win a penalty, convert it and briefly turn the game in Atleti's favour also spoke ill of Simeone's failure to get the best out of the majestically skilled Portugal forward.

Indeed, there is a mounting list of talented attackers who have failed to hit the heights under Simeone, with Griezmann something of an outlier in the aftermath of their 2013-14 success.

Back then, Atletico beat Madrid and Barca when it did not look possible. Now the Classico rivals look deeply fallible, Simeone is unable to rustle up enough of the old magic.


It is not a story to live up to the self-aggrandising history of Madrid, but Zinedine Zidane's steadying hand last year saw them win the title through not messing up as much as their rivals.

Where Barca and Atleti dropped 13 and 14 points from winning positions, Madrid shelled six.

That is not to do down Zidane's achievements as a serial trophy collector. He now has two domestic titles to go with three Champions Leagues across two spells in charge.

The France great is perfectly in tune with a squad he knows well and coaxed a magnificent, career-best season out of Karim Benzema last time around.

From the resumption after lockdown until LaLiga was secured, Madrid won 10 straight matches to comprehensively overhaul Barca.

Their subsequent Champions League loss to Manchester City, where 2-1 defeats in each leg ultimately flattered the 13-time European champions, put their dominant domestic form in context.

Having led the way for much of the past decade, LaLiga's big three presently feel like they're a rung below Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and the Premier League's top two of City and Liverpool. While it is easy to see Madrid retaining Spain's top-flight for the first time since 2007-08, it is hard the see the wider continental gap closing.

Eden Hazard must improve upon a stop-start first season at the Santiago Bernabeu, while Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo and Federico Valverde have futures of giddying excitement ahead of them. However, the old guard of Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Benzema remain the core and are the wrong side of 30. Galactico-hunters no more, Los Blancos have once again been fairly quiet in the transfer market.

Zidane's skill at Madrid has been to delay a wholesale transition, even when he returned in the aftermath of Cristiano Ronaldo's 2018 departure. But the clock is ticking on the time for change and, as Madrid's biggest rivals have shown, a painful process awaits.

Dwight Lodeweges says Ronald Koeman messaged him to praise the Netherlands' second-half display in their 1-0 Nations League win over Poland on Friday.

Lodeweges was installed as the Oranje's interim head coach following Koeman's decision to take over as Barcelona boss last month.

He started his potentially short reign with a slender 1-0 win over Poland in their Nations League Group A1 clash – Steven Bergwijn securing the three points with his first international goal shortly after the hour mark.

"Ronald sent a message immediately after the game, saying congratulations and how it was a very good second half," he told NOS. "I agree with him on that.

"The first half did not go well. There was not enough depth and movement in our game. Then it is very difficult to separate a team that plays 4-5-1. We didn't get between the lines. That went a lot better in the second half.

"Of course, I had hoped that we would win 3-0 or 4-0 tonight, but then you have to score quickly. I think we can also be satisfied with a 1-0, after being apart for nine months."

Virgil van Dijk, who was typically imperious at the back, would not be drawn on Lodeweges' long-term future but did say he commands the respect of the squad.

"Dwight is now the boss, he already has that respect from everyone", the Liverpool defender said. "He is doing great and continues to do what he has always done. It is nice working with Dwight, everyone knows that."

In an empty Johan Cruijff ArenA, Van Dijk's voice could be heard throughout the game as he marshalled the defence.

"That's always the way, it's in my character," he added. "In my position I have an overview to reach everyone and to keep them sharp. You have to be able to do that and I am glad I can. I notice that it is important for the team."

Netherlands began life after Ronald Koeman with a 1-0 win over Poland in the Nations League on Friday. 

Koeman left his post as head coach in August to take over the reigns at LaLiga giants Barcelona, with his former assistant Dwight Lodeweges promoted to interim boss. 

Lodeweges' side were good value for all three points from their opening Nations League Group B4 game, taking the lead shortly after the hour courtesy of Steven Bergwijn's first international goal. 

New Manchester United signing Donny van de Beek was introduced after that, but he was unable to inspire the hosts to another goal their superiority deserved.

Quincy Promes was the first player on either side to enjoy a clear sight of goal, the Ajax man dragging his shot wide of Wojciech Szczesny's left-hand post after being played through by  Bergwijn midway through the first half. 

Jasper Cillessen was then belatedly called into action with half an hour played, pushing over Krzysztof Piatek's curled effort from Tomasz Kedziora's low cross. 

The Dutch continued to look threatening in attack and Frenkie de Jong almost handed them a half-time lead, but his volley crashed back off Szczesny's upright.

The hosts deservedly went ahead in the 61st minute, Hans Hateboer heading De Jong's deep cross into the path of Bergwijn, who tapped into an empty net from four yards.

Although Lodeweges' men did not add to that goal, they never looked like relinquishing their lead on the way to three routine points.

What does it mean? Lodeweges states his case for the top job

After two years of progress under Koeman, the Dutch are now embarking on a new era. Whether that will be under the leadership of Lodeweges remains to be seen, but the 62-year-old did his case for being awarded the job on a permanent basis no harm at all. The margin of victory was slender, but this was a dominant display by the Oranje.

Depay too hot to handle

The Lyon forward was at his dazzling best, bamboozling the Poland backline with an array of tricks and flicks. He did not get on the scoresheet but was his side's brightest spark.

Poland miss their star man

With Robert Lewandowski absent following his Champions League excursions with Bayern Munich, the stage was set for Krzysztof Piatek to shine. The Hertha Berlin man endured a frustrating game, though, and was hauled off just after Bergwijn's goal.

What's next?

Netherlands host Italy in Amsterdam on Monday, while Poland travel to Bosnia-Herzegovina on the same day.

Louis van Gaal or Bert van Marwijk should be among the prime candidates to replace Ronald Koeman as the Netherlands coach, according to Robin van Persie.

Koeman oversaw an impressive transformation during a two-and-a-half-year stint in charge of the Netherlands, taking the team to the inaugural Nations League finals, while also aiding the development of youngsters such as Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt.

However, Koeman left his role when Barcelona came calling in August, leaving the Netherlands in search of a new coach ahead of next year's European Championship.

Van Gaal has coached the Netherlands twice, last leading them to a World Cup semi-final in 2014 before taking up a role as Manchester United boss.

Former Oranje star Van Persie – the Netherlands' record goalscorer – who worked under Van Gaal for both the national team and United, believes the 69-year-old would be an ideal appointment.

"I have never worked with Ronald Koeman myself, so I cannot judge him as a coach," Van Persie wrote in a column in De Telegraaf.

"What I did learn is that he communicated well, had his affairs well organised in terms of discipline, could stand above the group, [like] Louis. A top coach must have a certain fear factor.

"He can squeeze the best out of a group in a short time. To his advantage, it is not a team with a lot of players over thirty, they are mainly younger players. He prefers to work with that. 

"I saw at the World Cup in 2014 what he is capable of in eight weeks, let alone if he has almost a year for a European Championship. 

"The players just have to realise that it will be super intense with Louis. I speak from experience with him through two seasons with the Netherlands and immediately afterwards a year as a club coach at Manchester United."

Van Persie also put forward Van Marwijk – who coached the Netherlands between 2008 and 2012 and led them to the 2010 World Cup final – as another top candidate.

"I thought his vision was excellent. He is also a coach who expresses a lot of confidence towards his players," Van Persie added.

"He did that really well. He gave his front players a lot of freedom and we – I'm talking about Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart, Arjen Robben and I – handled that in the right way in 2010. 

"He gave us the feeling that we are also going to do it for the coach. That really lived with us. We went on cruise control through qualifying, won an incredible amount and we almost became world champions."

Lionel Messi did not take part in Barcelona's first day of pre-season training under Ronald Koeman as the six-time Ballon d'Or winner continues to angle for a move away from Camp Nou.

Messi stunned the footballing world by informing Barca of his intention to leave last week via an already infamous burofax.

As with Sunday's coronavirus testing for members of Koeman's first-team squad, Messi did not attend because he believes a clause in his contract allowing him to leave on a free transfer is now active, meaning he is no longer a Barcelona player.

This is a version of events disputed by both the club and LaLiga, which issued a statement on Sunday to underline its stance that Messi's huge €700million release clause remains valid within a contract that expires next June.

Manchester City and Messi's former coach Pep Guardiola have been widely touted as the frontrunners for the wantaway star, with further developments expected over the course of the coming week.

Koeman is reported to have indicated to Luis Suarez and Arturo Vidal that their futures lie elsewhere, but they both trained among a 19-man group, with a host of senior players away on international duty.

Ivan Rakitic was given permission to miss training as he closes in on a return to Europa League winners Sevilla.

LaLiga announced its fixture schedule for 2020-21 on Monday, with Barcelona given the first two matchweeks off due to their European commitments earlier this month before starting against Villarreal at Camp Nou on September 27.

Ronald Koeman learned how his first campaign at the helm of Barcelona will run on Monday, when LaLiga announced its schedule for 2020-21.

The first Clasico of the season takes place at Camp Nou on October 25, with the return clash against bitter rivals Real Madrid in April.

What shape Koeman's Barca are in by the time of the initial encounter is anyone's guess as the Dutchman picks through the rubble of an 8-2 Champions League quarter-final defeat to Bayern Munich that saw his predecessor Quique Setien sacked and contributed to Lionel Messi's transfer request bombshell.

If Barcelona regain the title from Madrid from this point, it would be a considerable achievement. Here is how they must go about it.

 #ElClásico in @LaLigaEN!

 Matchday 7
 Barça - Madrid. Camp Nou

 Matchday 30
 Madrid - Barça. Santiago Bernabéu

— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) August 31, 2020 September 27 – Barcelona v Villarreal
September 30 – Celta Vigo v Barcelona
October 4 – Barcelona v Sevilla
October 18 – Getafe v Barcelona
October 25 – Barcelona v Real Madrid
November 1 – Deportivo Alaves v Barcelona
November 8 – Barcelona v Real Betis
November 22 – Atletico Madrid v Barcelona
November 29 – Barcelona v Osasuna
December 6 – Cadiz v Barcelona
December 13 – Barcelona v Levante
December 20 – Barcelona v Valencia
December 23 – Real Valladolid v Barcelona
December 30 – Barcelona v Eibar
January 3 – Huesca v Barcelona
January 5 – Athletic Bilbao v Barcelona
January 10 – Granada v Barcelona
January 20 – Barcelona v Real Sociedad
January 24 – Elche v Barcelona
January 31 – Barcelona v Athletic Bilbao
February 7 – Real Betis v Barcelona
February 14 – Barcelona v Deportivo Alaves
February 21 – Barcelona v Cadiz
February 28 – Sevilla v Barcelona
March 7 – Osasuna v Barcelona
March 14 – Barcelona v Huesca
March 21 – Real Sociedad v Barcelona
April 4 – Barcelona v Real Valladolid
April 11 – Real Madrid v Barcelona
April 21 – Barcelona v Getafe
April 25 – Villarreal v Barcelona
April 28 – Barcelona v Granada
May 2 – Valencia v Barcelona
May 9 – Barcelona v Atletico Madrid
May 12 – Levante v Barcelona
May 16 – Barcelona v Celta Vigo
May 23 – Eibar v Barcelona
TBC – Barcelona v Elche

Netherlands interim coach Dwight Lodeweges has handed maiden senior call-ups to promising youngsters Mohamed Ihattaren, Perr Schuurs and Owen Wijndal for their upcoming Nations League fixtures against Poland and Italy.

Lodeweges, who was assistant to Ronald Koeman until his departure to Barcelona earlier this month, had the responsibility of selecting the full squad for the first time.

He has taken the opportunity to introduce fresh faces and recall some familiar ones not seen in the selection for several years, while Juventus centre-back Matthijs de Ligt remains sidelined after knee surgery.

Attacking midfielder Ihattaren impressed in his 22 Eredivisie appearances for PSV in 2019-20 and declared for the Netherlands last year having also been eligible for Morocco.

Ball-playing centre-back Schuurs broke into Ajax's first-team squad before Dutch football was halted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Similarly, attack-minded left-back Wijndal – also 20 years old, like Ihattaren and Schuurs – earned rave reviews with AZ prior to the 2019-20 campaign being cancelled.

While those three will be hoping for their first caps, Leroy Fer and Tim Krul are aiming to return to action with the national side after significant periods away.

Krul last played for his country in October 2015, while Fer's absence has been 11 months longer – he featured most recently against Mexico in November 2014.

Daley Blind was among several on the provisional list, but he has been discarded after a recent health scare in an Ajax friendly.

The centre-back, who was last year fitted with a subcutaneous implantable cardioverter defibrillator after being diagnosed with heart muscle inflammation, collapsed in the meeting with Hertha Berlin but insisted he was "feeling fine" when he provided an update on Wednesday.

Myron Boadu, Teun Koopmeiners and Calvin Stengs were among the more surprising omissions of those on the provisional list.

The Netherlands face Poland on September 4 and Italy three days later.

Netherlands squad in full:

Jasper Cillessen (Valencia), Marco Bizot  (AZ), Tim Krul (Norwich City); Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Denzel Dumfries (PSV), Nathan Ake (Manchester City), Hans Hateboer (Atalanta), Perr Schuurs (Ajax), Joel Veltman (Brighton and Hove Albion), Stefan de Vrij (Inter), Owen Wijndal (AZ); Donny van de Beek (Ajax), Leroy Fer (Feyenoord), Mohamed Ihattaren (PSV), Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Marten de Roon (Atalanta), Kevin Strootman (Marseille), Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool); Luuk de Jong (Sevilla), Quincy Promes (Ajax), Ryan Babel (Galatasaray), Steven Bergwijn (Tottenham).

Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann wanted to leave Camp Nou before speaking to new head coach Ronald Koeman, claims former agent Eric Olhats.

Griezmann endured a difficult first season with Barca following his €120million arrival from LaLiga rivals Atletico Madrid, struggling for consistency despite scoring 15 goals across all competitions.

The 29-year-old's struggles prompted talk of an exit amid links to Paris Saint-Germain, while the front page of Friday's Marca reports Atletico rejected a proposed exchange deal from Barca that would have seen Griezmann and Joao Felix swap clubs.

Olhats, who previously represented Griezmann, claims the France international was eyeing a move away from Barca prior to Koeman replacing Quique Setien.

"Before the [8-2] defeat in the Champions League to Bayern [Munich], Antoine only had the desire to leave Barcelona," Olhats told RMC.

"The reality is that Griezmann perceived that he was not part of the club's plans, that he could not continue like this.

"He was seriously studying how to leave. Then what we know happened and a conversation with Koeman reassured him.

"[Koeman] expressed his plans, because he considers him an important player for the future."

Griezmann scored nine goals in 35 appearances as Barca were dethroned by bitter rivals Real Madrid in LaLiga in 2019-20.

He also netted twice in the Champions League for Barca, who were embarrassed by Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals.

Barca are now braced for Lionel Messi to sensationally leave the club after the six-time Ballon d'Or winner handed in a transfer request, plunging the Catalan giants into further chaos following a tumultuous season.

Lionel Messi is "very unlikely" to leave Barcelona before the 2020-21 season, according to Brazilian legend Ronaldo.

Sweeping changes have begun at Barca following their humiliating Champions League exit at the hands of Bayern Munich, with head coach Quique Setien and sporting director Eric Abidal replaced by Ronald Koeman and Ramon Planes respectively. Presidential elections have also been brought forward to March.

According to reports, the majority of the first team – including stalwarts such as Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets – have been put up for sale in the wake of the 8-2 loss to Bayern, with the exception of Messi.

However, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has supposedly informed Koeman he sees his future away from Camp Nou.

Messi is in the final year of his contract with Barca but the club's former striker Ronaldo, who owns LaLiga side Real Valladolid, believes the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic means a potential transfer is unrealistic.

"It is very unlikely that Messi will leave Barcelona, especially with the financial crisis in Europe," said Ronaldo.

"Messi is the reference of the team and if I was Barcelona I would not let him leave in any case.

"Messi has a very intense relationship with Barcelona, I do not think he will stop being in love with the team. He's upset, of course, with how they were defeated in the Champions League.

"Messi needs his team-mates to help him, as they do, and Barcelona will have to think of something different for the next seasons. Letting your main player leave is not the solution."

Henrik Larsson has agreed to return to Barcelona to join the coaching staff under new boss Ronald Koeman.

The former Sweden striker won two LaLiga titles, the Supercopa de Espana and the Champions League during a two-year spell at Camp Nou as a player.

Larsson scored 22 goals in 62 appearances in all competitions but is perhaps most fondly remembered for coming off the bench to set up both Barca goals as they beat Arsenal 2-1 to become champions of Europe.

The former Celtic and Manchester United forward, who was head coach at Helsingborgs last year, has signed a two-year contract at Camp Nou.

Joining Larsson in taking up a role under Koeman is Alfred Schreuder, who has also signed a deal until June 30, 2022.

Schreuder was appointed head coach of Hoffenheim last March, having previously worked as Julian Nagelsmann's assistant, but he was sacked in June.

The former Feyenoord midfielder was assistant to Erik ten Hag at Ajax in 2018-19 as the Eredivisie side reached the Champions League semi-finals with a series of sparkling performances.

Luis Enrique believes Ronald Koeman's Dutch mentality is ideal for Barcelona and is convinced the club will soon start winning trophies again.

Koeman left his job as boss of the Netherlands to take over at Camp Nou following the sacking of Quique Setien, who paid the price for the 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Sporting director Eric Abidal soon followed, while superstar forward Lionel Messi is reportedly considering his future.

Spain boss Luis Enrique led Barca to nine major trophies in three seasons as coach, including a LaLiga, Copa del Rey and Champions League treble in the 2014-15 campaign.

He has backed Koeman, a legend as a player at Barca, to turn things around and says Barcelona will come out of the malaise.

"He has the Dutch mentality, very similar to that of Barca," he told a news conference when asked about Koeman.

"Training Barcelona is an immense joy, it is never the worst moment. Then you have to manage it, but these are days when there is always sun.

"It happens to all the big clubs. Now comes more difficult moments. The history of the great clubs is full of these situations.

"They will win titles again soon, but I don't know when. That's the million dollar question."These players are used to this. They have [broad shoulders]."

Asked if he sees Messi leaving Barca, he replied: "Only Messi can answer that."

Luis Enrique named a fresh-looking squad for Spain's upcoming matches against Germany and Ukraine, with Barca's rising star Ansu Fati and Wolves winger Adama Traore included.

"I know him [Fati] perfectly. I think he has the level to be with us," Luis Enrique said of the teenager.

"I would say that only Messi has a higher minute-to-goal ratio than him at Barcelona. I want to see him here. It will be very important."

On Traore, he added: "We have followed him for a long time, since I was in Barcelona. He does many things.

He is a diamond, a brutal potential that can bring us many things. He has even come close to the goal. And he is willing and hungry."

Lionel Messi and Barcelona could be heading for a sensational split, and the man who hopes to become president at Camp Nou next year admits: "It gives me nightmares."

There are continuing doubts over Messi's interest in staying on at Camp Nou after a painful end to the season in LaLiga and the Champions League.

Victor Font, who is rivalling Joan Laporta in the race to succeed current Barca chief Josep Maria Bartomeu, says he fears the prospect of the club's record scorer departing.

The Argentinian forward has been notably quiet since Barcelona were trounced 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Captain Messi allowed Gerard Pique to explain away the torrid night in Lisbon, and there has been radio silence since.

Bartomeu said he had spoken to Messi's father, but not to the player himself, while new boss Ronald Koeman declared he needed to speak to the 33-year-old to determine his intentions.

Font said in an interview with Catalan newspaper Sport that he did not discount the possibility of Messi leaving.

"I believe there's a risk and it gives me nightmares. Messi is vital to this club, the most important player in its entire history and it'll only grow after he retires," Font said.

"The relationship between Messi and Barca must continue after he's hung up his boots. He should be the image of this club and its growth throughout the world."

Such comments are to be expected from a man seeking to bolster support for his campaign, and going after Bartomeu during Barcelona's time of crisis is also unlikely to damage Font's standing.

He stuck the boot in on the incumbent president by saying the sacking of Quique Setien and appointment of Koeman was "an escape route" for the board, and made it clear Koeman would not remain boss under his tenure.

Font had previously stressed Xavi would helm first-team operations under his regime, and he appeared to indicate the best he could promise Koeman was a role elsewhere on the staff.

"I wish, and I mean this from my heart, Koeman and Barca win the treble," Font said. "I'm sure that Xavi, at the head of this project, would find a place for Koeman's talent too."

He said it was "nonsense" that "the same people who caused this crisis are still making the decisions", including newly-promoted technical director Ramon Planes, calling for a clearout from the top down and saying it was "irresponsible" that Bartomeu had not already resigned.

Font's concern is that players he would want to keep at the club could be swept out by the current regime, with Bartomeu having spoken of "drastic measures" being planned and the anticipated departure of "legendary" figures.

From Font's perspective, the sporting side of the club is discredited, after the Champions League humiliation and the slump since lockdown that saw Barcelona overtaken by Real Madrid in LaLiga's title race.

"What if the new technical secretary and coach in 2021 believe Luis Suarez or Pique, for example, are still important members of the squad as the team evolves but Planes and Koeman have already sold them?" Font mused.

"It doesn't add up. There needs to be more perspective. Look beyond today, think about tomorrow and what's best for FC Barcelona."

Gerard Deulofeu has taken a swipe at new Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman, claiming "he provided me absolutely nothing" during their time at Everton.

Koeman was announced as Quique Setien's successor on Wednesday, signing a two-year deal at Camp Nou, where he spent six hugely successful years as a player under Johan Cruyff.

The former Netherlands boss has been tasked with overseeing substantial changes at a club still reeling from a humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals last week.

But Deulofeu, who played under Koeman at Everton in the 2016-17 Premier League season, does not appear to think much of his old manager's chances.

"I can tell you about Koeman from my personal experience, and I have very little to tell you about Koeman," the Watford winger said on Cataluna Radio.

"He provided me absolutely nothing. I wasn't happy, I asked to leave and I went to Milan.

"We'll see how he does at Camp Nou."

Deulofeu, a product of Barca's youth academy, was sold to Everton in 2015 after spending the previous seasons on loan with the Toffees and then Sevilla.

He was signed back by Barca in 2017 but failed to make an impact under Ernesto Valverde before joining Watford.

Despite his past allegiance to the club, the 26-year-old does not appear concerned by the institutional crisis at Barca, who saw Eric Abidal leave as first-team technical secretary the day after Setien was dismissed and who are facing a battle to convince captain Lionel Messi to stay.

"The truth is that Barcelona's [situation] does not bother me," he said. "In fact, right now, I don't care."

Deulofeu thinks it will be "years" before Barca are able to rival the very best sides in Europe again and says they have paid the price for not trusting youth.

"At Barcelona, they have not had patience with La Masia for years," he added. "If you give [the youngsters] time, they learn the style of the first team.

"There are players, many of us have come from there, but not [been given] patience. Now, there will be changes, but they are years behind."

Ronald Koeman refused to be drawn over the future of Philippe Coutinho but did reveal Frenkie de Jong will be key to a new-look Barcelona.

Coutinho remains the LaLiga club's record signing but has struggled to live up to expectations following his big-money move from Liverpool, leading to him going on loan to Bayern Munich.

That season-long deal came back to haunt Barca in the Champions League, however, as the Brazilian scored Bayern's final two goals in the 8-2 quarter-final rout that led to the sacking of Quique Setien.

Koeman was confirmed in the job on Wednesday, the Dutchman handed the difficult task of overseeing a major overhaul at Camp Nou.

As it stands, Coutinho is set to return ahead of the 2020-21 season and while heavily linked with a move to Arsenal, the 28-year-old could still be part of the new coach's plans.

"He is a Barcelona player and if decisions have to be made, we will make them," Koeman said at a press conference when asked about Coutinho.

"Now I have more time to get to know the young people out there. It is a time to give young people possibilities. We have no doubts about putting young people in when they deserve it.

"You have to have a balance between experience and youth. We have to play with more intensity."

While Koeman refused to commit one way or the other over Coutinho, he left no doubt over De Jong's status ahead of the expected rebuild.

The former Netherlands boss knows all about his compatriot from their time together with the national team, with the plan seemingly for De Jong to revert to the position he excelled in with Ajax.

A move to a more deep-lying role in midfield for the 23-year-old would come at the expense of Sergio Busquets, who may find himself pushed out of contention amid the changes.

"For a player who comes to Barca, his first year is always complicated," Koeman said of De Jong. "The positive thing is that he has played many games.

"He has not played in his position. For me, the most important thing is to find the position in which the players sit more comfortable. If you get it, they get the best performance."

Barca had two different coaches in charge across a disappointing 2019-20 campaign, Setien having been appointed in January following the departure of Ernesto Valverde.

They did sit top of the table in Spain upon the restart following the enforced break due to the coronavirus pandemic, yet ended up finishing second to rivals Real Madrid.

Lionel Messi will be at the heart of Ronald Koeman's plans as Barcelona head coach so long as the "best player in the world" wishes to remain at Camp Nou.

Koeman was unveiled as Quique Setien's successor on Wednesday, continuing a tempestuous few days at Barca following their humiliating 8-2 Champions League quarter-final loss to Bayern Munich.

Sporting director Eric Abidal departed after handling Setien's sacking, although reports Messi wishes to leave the club have arguably caused the biggest shockwaves.

Under-fire president Josep Maria Bartomeu told Barcelona's in-house television channel that Messi will be part of the club's immediate future, despite conceding he had not spoken to the player in the aftermath of the Bayern debacle.

Predictably, Messi was a prominent topic of conversation when Koeman faced reporters for the first time in a role he left his Netherlands post to take up.

"Messi is the best player in the world and you want the best player in the world on your team," he said.

"I don't know if I have to convince him [to stay]. I would love to work with him because he wins you games. If he gets the usual performance, I'm very happy that he stays.

"He has a contract. You have to talk to him, of course, he is captain of the team. We have to talk to several players. We have to make decisions. In the case of Messi, I hope he will be here for more years.

"If I tell you what I'm going to say to Leo, I don't need to meet him. They are private things. I want him to tell me what he thinks. But come on, he has one year left on his contract."

In his surprisingly wide-ranging address on Tuesday, Bartomeu said Messi was among a select group of players who were not for sale in the first-team squad that also includes Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Frenkie de Jong, Clement Lenglet, Ousmane Dembele, Antoine Griezmann and Ansu Fati.

Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets were among the notable omissions from that list but Koeman insists the more experienced members of his squad will have a chance to prove themselves.

Asked whether the nucleus of the Barcelona first-team needed to be replaced, he replied: "I think not, in principle. A 32-year-old player is not finished.

"Everything is about how hungry he is, how hungry he is to give everything.

"There are people at 20 years old who lack hunger and work ethic. I just want to work with people who want to be here.

"Whoever doesn't like it, go to the club and tell them. I just want to work with people who want to do their best for Barcelona."

When asked specifically about Suarez, he added: "Messi is different because he is the captain of the team, but I am not going to talk about the players.

"First I want to talk to them. I am not going to do that out of respect for the players."

Koeman scored the winning goal when Barcelona first became champions of Europe with a 1-0 win over Sampdoria at Wembley in 1992.

As such, he conceded last Friday's mauling at the hands of Bayern was a tough watch.

"I'm very sad about the result," he said. "I think it can't be, even if it is a team as good as this Bayern. After that sad day, we will have different days.

"This is not about a revolution, but if changes are best for the club, there will be changes.

"We will do it speaking with the players. What we saw versus Bayern was not the Barca we want. We want a very different image."

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