The Barcelona hotseat is going to be vacated in a couple of weeks due to the current incumbent Luis Enrique calling time on his tenure with the Catalan giants. When the news was announced at the start of March the obvious question was as to who would replace the former Barcelona and Real Madrid midfielder and many felt the answer may well lie in the Premier League.
Back in March you could have realistically made the case for three Premier League managers to have made the move to Barcelona. Two of them were based in North London as both Mauricio Pochettino and Arsene Wenger were in the frame. Those two have been dismissed now due to the fact that Pochettino’s love for Espanyol is too strong while no-one knows what Wenger is doing next season.
That leaves us with the third potential candidate and that man is none other than Ronald Koeman. The former Dutch international captain is part of Barcelona folklore due to his winning goal in the 1992 European Cup Final at Wembley against Sampdoria. It was his extra time free kick which gave Johan Cruyff’s side a first ever success in the competition.
So it comes as no real surprise that Koeman is held in high regard due to his playing exploits but his managerial c.v. is doing him no harm either. It’s fair to say that Koeman has been around the block and only really found his stride when in charge of Feyenoord between 2011-2014.
But since then his managerial stock has continued to rise after two succesful seasons at Southampton and a similar one this time around at Everton. The 54 year old has secured three successive Europa League qualifications across the two clubs and it is testament to the work that he has done.
Koeman took over at Southampton from Mauricio Pochettino and had a side brimming with talent, so much so that he registered a 7th place finish in his debut season and then improved on that second time around as the Saints finished 6th in the 2015/16 campaign.
It is always an eternal struggle to keep hold of talent at Southampton and Koeman was no different in his battle to ward off bigger suitors for his players, but the Southampton hierarchy had the same issue when Everton majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri came calling with the promise of riches last Summer.
Many anticipated that there was set to be a war chest ready to be spend and the funds were promised but credit must go to Koeman for not necessarily splurging the cash when so many other managers would have taken the surplus of transfer funds which were on offer.
Everton have been transformed under the tutelage of Koeman and this young squad looks a totally different unit to the much maligned one that saw out the last ill fated days of Roberto Martinez’s time at the club.
And with Koeman’s star burning brlightly it should come as no real surprise that people were making the obvious link of Barcelona coming calling in the close season. Although it seems that as if the inevtiable will happen, it is not going to happen just yet.
That is because the current Everton boss has fully declared his intention to see out the 3 year contract he signed back in June 2016. If that is to be the case then he will be at Goodison Park until the end of the 2018/19 season.
Now moving to one job to another is never that easy especially in football and there is never any perfect timing, so who is to stay that Barcelona will even have a vacancy two years down the line. So could that mean that failure for Koeman to strike while the iron is hot will see him miss out on a Nou Camp adventure.
He obviously feels that there is still a lot that can be achieved at Everton and to leave now would be cutting the project short. But can you really say no to Barcelona, it’s the kind of club where timing is everything and you might not get that second opportunity.
Ultimately Koeman is putting a lot of faith in the footballing crystal ball over the next few years, but you must remember a managers stock can go up as well as down. Sometimes it’s better to take the chance while it arises or it could be a decision you will very much regret.