Barcelona have sacked manager Quique Setien in the wake of their humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.
The club fired Setien following a hastily-convened emergency meeting on Monday morning after suffering one of the darkest defeats of their 120-year history to cap a trophyless season.
Former Barcelona player and current Holland manager Ronald Koeman is poised to become the club’s new manager.
A statement on Barcelona’s official website read: ‘This is the first decision within a wider restructuring of the first team which will be agreed between the current technical secretary and the new coach, who will be announced in the coming days.’
Barcelona have also announced that elections for the presidency of the club will take place on the first match day from March 15 next year after they were brought forward.
Victor Font, a candidate to become president, would be in favour of appointing Xavi as manager. He previously said: ‘I’m in tune with Xavi about the project, and personally, I love talking to him about football, and I hope he can lead our footballing project.’
The club stated that they will oversee ‘profound changes’ to the first-team squad, while there will also be a ‘budgetary redefinition’ to cope with the financial impact of coronavirus.
They say March was the most convenient time to hold elections given that the season starts in September, with the formal announcement of the elections to take place in January.
The statement read: ‘The Club will continue to implement the shock plan to reverse the sporting and economic situation, based on profound changes in the first team, and a budgetary redefinition to deal with the new situation caused by the Covid-19, before the end of this mandate.’
Setien, the former Real Betis manager, was only appointed in January to replace Ernesto Valverde and ultimately took charge of just 25 games at Barcelona.
Koeman, meanwhile, played for Barcelona for six years during a highly successful career that saw him win LaLiga four times, as well as the Copa del Rey and European Cup.
He featured 350 times for the Spanish giants and continues to carry his Barcelona affections with him everywhere he goes. The 57-year-old even has a personalised ‘BAR’ number plate on his black Bentley Continental to reference his link to the club.
Koeman also spent time as assistant manager to Louis van Gaal between 1998 and 2000 – only increasing his desire to become the main man.
He has made no secret of his hopes to return to the team in a managerial capacity, confirming he had a clause in his contract with Dutch FA that allowed him to move to Barca after Euro 2020.
Setien, 61, struggled with the pressures of managing the Nou Camp club as they lost out in the LaLiga title race to Real Madrid and exited the Copa del Rey at the quarter-final stage to Athletic Bilbao.
It was the first season since 2007-08 that Barcelona failed to win any silverware.
And there was little chance he would be kept on in the wake of Friday night’s eight-goal hammering at the hands of Bayern in Lisbon as Barcelona’s Champions League hopes were shot to bits.
Monday’s meeting of club directors was convened by president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
They discussed a date for the next presidential elections at the club before turning attention to Setien’s sacking and his replacement.
At full time on Friday night, Setien told reporters: ‘Right now we feel enormous frustration and all we can do is make conclusions and think about the future.
‘Barca is a club that is so great that this will cause us a lot of damage and obviously some things will have to change.
‘The truth is this is a tremendously painful defeat.
‘Barcelona want to recover their identity. Right now, it’s too soon to think about whether I will stay or not. It doesn’t depend on me.
‘We have to reflect, taking the situation into account and the importance that such a humiliating and painful defeat means.
‘I’m hurt, evidently, by such a hefty defeat.The way it came about has been tremendously painful.
‘I’m not worried about my future right now, but a defeat that is very painful for the club and the fans.’I know what a defeat of this calibre means.
‘We have to analyse what happened today from a bigger perspective. I know that the credibility of a coach diminishes when something like this happens. This isn’t what worries me at the moment.
‘We have to accept the defeat how it is. We were beaten by a very good team.’Apart from the first few minutes, they were clearly better than us for the rest of the game.’
Barca defender Gerard Pique has confessed ‘we’ve hit rock bottom’ and insisted the club must make structural changes to become competitive in Europe once again.
When asked to reflect on Pique’s assessment, Setien said: ‘This reflection from a player that has been here his whole life indicates something.’
The club’s President Bartomeu also admitted afterwards that huge changes are necessary and that some decisions have already been taken with reports elsewhere suggesting that Director of Football Eric Abidal will join Setien as a fall guy for Friday’s embarrassing exit.