Barcelona: Koeman hopes Messi stays for 'many more years'
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Talk of Barcelona potentially sacking Ronald Koeman has arisen in the wake of their 3-0 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich in midweek. It was a chastening night for the Catalan club, who look a shadow of their old selves. And one possible candidate to take over is Antonio Conte, who is currently a free agent.
Barcelona were outclassed by Bayern Munich on Tuesday night.
Thomas Muller put the Bundesliga side ahead in the first minute, with Robert Lewandowski then scoring a brilliant brace.
Barcelona chiefs had a meeting until 2am in the morning following the loss and, while Joan Laporta has publicly backed Koeman, different messages in the Spanish press have surfaced.
Some have suggested they’re willing to relieve the former Everton and Southampton boss of his duties now.
So Express Sport now takes a look at how Barcelona could line up if Conte were to take charge.
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Goalkeeper: Ter Stegen
At every club, Conte usually sticks with the goalkeeper he inherits.
He was never going to drop or demote Gianluigi Buffon at Juventus, despite the veteran entering the twilight years of his career at the time.
At Chelsea, Thibaut Courtois was undroppable.
And it was a similar story with Samir Handanovic at Inter Milan, too.
Therefore, Marc-Andre Ter Stegen shouldn’t fear. If Conte takes charge, the Barcelona star can still expect to start between the sticks.
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Defence: Pique, Garcia, Umtiti
Barcelona boss Koeman has never really trusted Samuel Umtiti since taking charge in the summer of 2020.
However, Conte may decide to give him a new lease of life.
The Italian likes strong centre-backs who are good on the ball but, above all, good at defending. Therefore, Umtiti is his sort of player – despite his struggles in recent years.
Eric Garcia would expect to start, especially after arriving on a free transfer from Manchester City.
And so too would Gerard Pique, who is the heartbeat of this Barcelona side.
Midfield: Dest, Pedri, De Jong, Alba
As Barcelona’s golden boy, Pedri will be key to the future of the club.
So while Conte may like Sergio Busquets, the Spaniard would likely have to settle for a reduced role.
Instead, it’s easy to envisage the Italian deploying Frenkie De Jong alongside Pedri in the middle of the park.
And, given his fondness for wing-backs, that would benefit Sergino Dest and Jordi Alba.
Both have been given new roles by Koeman of late but, under Conte, their games could be taken to new heights.
Attack: Coutinho, Depay, Aguero
Barcelona will have no choice but to persevere with Philippe Coutinho.
The Brazil international has been a huge disappointment ever since moving from Liverpool back in the January transfer window of 2018.
But Barcelona are stuck with him and Conte may choose to deploy him up top alongside Memphis Depay.
Then, down the middle, would be Sergio Aguero.
The Argentina international is yet to feature since joining from Manchester City but, when fully fit, should lead the line.
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