Patrick Kluivert has emerged as a (very) surprising contender to replace the under-fire Quique Setien at Barcelona, with the players themselves backing the former Netherlands striker.
A spiritless defence of their La Liga title came to a disappointing conclusion in the penultimate round of fixtures, with Barça suffering a humiliating home defeat as Real Madrid stormed their way to a 34th league crown.
Such has been the uproar in Catalonia as the result of a catastrophic few months, calls for Setien to be relieved of his duties a little over 20 matches into his reign have become deafening. Lionel Messi has been outspoken of the club’s failings, and Setien’s position hangs by a thread.
The topic of who could replace him has dominated the headlines, but the latest updates from Mundo Deportivo suggest the current squad would like club legend Kluivert to take over the role. The Dutchman, who scored 122 goals in 256 games for the club as a player, has been their academy director since July 2019.
Given he is already known in and around the club there will be no need for a bedding in period with the players, nor will he need to adjust to the club’s ethos and model. It’s said that the belief within the squad is that Kluivert can offer them precisely what the likes of Messi demand: ‘intensity and character’.
Having been at the club for over a year now in his most recent role, he has a strong relationship with the Barcelona old guard. Knowing Messi and Gerard Pique personally will aid his cause, as will his know-how of the academy stars; Kluivert is credited with integrating Ansu Fati into the senior setup.
In addition, Mundo Deportivo that Kluivert has also been key to De Jong’s integration at Barcelona and is best suited to help his fellow Dutchman find his best position at the club.
For all the players’ supposed wishes, any decision will come down to president Josep Bartomeu. He has the final say on whether Setien leaves and if so who replaces him – with Xavi Hernandez also in the frame – but the clamour from the players could impact his decision.
Kluivert’s managerial experience comes in the form of various assistant and reserve coaching roles in his homeland, which were followed by becoming Louis van Gaal’s assistant manager for the Netherlands national team – helping them to a third-placed finish at the 2014 World Cup.
From there he became the head coach of the Curacao national team, with his most recent managerial role being in charge of Ajax’s Under-19 side.
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