Ronald Koeman and Barcelona president Joan Laporta ‘didn’t say a WORD to each other on the plane home from their humbling loss to Benfica’, with under-fire Dutchman on the brink of the sack
- Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman looks to be a dead man walking at the Nou Camp
- His side have endured a poor start to the season and were beaten 3-0 by Benfica
- Koeman and chief Joan Laporta are said to have sat in silence on plane home
- Their relationship has now become ‘cold’ with Koeman’s sacking inevitable
Under-fire Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman’s relationship with president Joan Laporta has now become ‘cold’ after the pair ignored each other on the plane home from their humiliating 3-0 loss to Benfica.
The Catalan outfit have suffered a woeful start to the season under the Dutchman and his position as coach looks untenable. Sportsmail reported this week that it is a matter of when, not if he will be axed.
Spain’s media poured down criticism on his Barca side after their humbling in Portugal, with many outlets calling the loss a ‘disaster’, and now Spanish outlet Sport are claiming Koeman and Laporta’s relationship took another turn for the worst as the team travelled back.
Barcelona president Joan Laporta (L) and boss Ronald Koeman (R) reportedly did not say a word to each other after the club’s humiliating defeat to Benfica
Barcelona were well beaten by the Portuguese side to heap pressure on the Dutchman
The report describes the feeling between the pair as having a ‘coldness’, and when they boarded their plane back to Barcelona, there was ‘no conversation between them, nor the slightest exchange of opinions’.
Koeman and Laporta ‘did not exchange a word’ beyond a ‘polite goodnight’, it claims, with the club chief instead spending most of the journey sleeping.
They were both sat together in the front row of the plane, it says, along with Koeman’s assistant Alfred Schroeder and director Rafael Yuste.
Koeman is living on borrowed time and it is a matter of when, not if he is axed by the club
Laporta debated until 4am with directors about Koeman’s future and is looking at alternatives
It comes as Barcelona continue to weigh up their options around Koeman’s sacking – which now appears to be a formality – after directors stayed up until 4am deciding when to pull the trigger after returning home from Benfica.
Laporta and his fellow board members debated into the early hours how they would get around LaLiga’s Financial Fair Play rules to sack him – with Koeman expected to remain in charge for Saturday’s game against Atletico Madrid, although he is banned from the touchline.
Barcelona have the international break to install a new coach but their options are limited by the Spanish League rules applied to teams who fail to operate inside LaLiga-imposed salary limits.
Former Barcelona captain Xavi would be the preferred option of the club’s fans to take over
Legendary midfielder Xavi has been made one of the favourites to replace him, while Belgium boss Roberto Martinez is said to be another target for Laporta.
The obstacle is that the former Everton coach would have to buy himself out of his contract with the Belgium football federation at the cost of around €1.8m (£1.6m). He would need Barcelona to reimburse him that money.
Xavi – currently manager of Qatari outfit Al-Sadd – is a hit with supporters and has long been favoured by the board, although Laporta has been wary of throwing him into the current turbulent situation for his first major coaching role.
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