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Axe could fall on coach Koeman for Barcelona losses

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Madrid, May 19 (IANS) FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta has dropped the biggest hint yet that Ronald Koeman will not continue as first team coach for next season.

It looks as if Saturday’s game away to Eibar will be Koeman’s last in charge after the club ran out of steam recently, losing two home games to Celta and Granada, while drawing at home to Atletico Madrid and away to Levante, reports Xinhua.

Taking two points from 12 has destroyed Barca’s title hopes at the moment when it looked as if they could go on to lift this season’s title and the last weekend of the campaign will now see Atletico and Real Madrid duel it out for the top-spot, while Barca now need a point in Eibar to assure they finish third.

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“The way the league has been lost is incomprehensible,” said Laporte at a sports gala he attended on Tuesday night.

“I am talking about the end of the cycle and renewal because it is what [I] think has to be done. Starting next week, we are going to make a series of decisions,” he added.

“What we have to do is work hard and effectively to have a very competitive team to win the Champions League and to win the league,” continued Laporta.

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Laporta’s words not only appear to condemn Koeman, but also put several experienced players such as Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique, Sergi Roberto and Antoine Griezmann in the spotlight, while other players such as Samuel Umtiti, Junior Firpo and Martin Brathwaite look to have their days at the Camp Nou numbered.

Barcelona still have to convince Leo Messi to sign a new contract, and with his deal due to expire at the end of June, there is still a chance the Argentinean could abandon the club.

Meanwhile, the Spanish press on Wednesday speculated that Griezmann could return to Atletico Madrid with the young Portuguese international Joao Felix moving the other way.

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It is still unclear who will be Koeman’s successor, although former Barca midfielder Xavi Hernandez flew back to Barcelona a few days ago on holiday from Qatar where he coaches Al Sadd. Xavi has recently signed a new contract with the club, but it is uncertain whether this contains a clause that would allow him to join Barcelona if the opportunity arose.

–IANS

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