Koeman given time by Laporta after two key phone calls

Martin Macdonald
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Barcelona president Joan Laporta insists Ronald Koeman will keep his job as head coach no matter the result in Saturday's La Liga game against Atletico Madrid.

Koeman is currently under major pressure at Camp Nou after one of the most tumultuous summers in the club's history.

Massive levels of debt and an exorbitant wage bill has led to the departure of Lionel Messi, whom the club can no longer afford to keep despite the Argentine offering to cut his wages by 50%.

Other high-earners like Antoine Griezmann and Miralem Pjanic have also left.

Injuries have also left the squad ravaged at the start of the new campaign as Barcelona have been poor in their opening fixtures.

Though they remain unbeaten, Barca have drawn half of their six games against Athletic Bilbao, Granada and Cadiz.

The Champions League is the most concerning, as they now face a real battle to even qualify from the group after two 3-0 defeats against Bayern Munich and Benfica.

Barca face their toughest task of the domestic season so far on Saturday when they take on champions, Atletico.

Reports from Spain previously suggested that a defeat could spell the end for Koeman, but Laporta has given support to his coach.

“Koeman will stay," Laporta said, as reported by Fabrizio Romano.

"He will continue to be the coach regardless of tonight game result. He deserves a margin of confidence, he’s a Barcelona legend. I appreciate how he has accepted to coach the club in these difficult times”

Barcelona president Joan Laporta

Barcelona president Joan Laporta

It was later revealed by Mundo Deportivo that the pair shared a phone call on Friday following Koeman's press conference in which he questioned the club's faith in him.

Koeman and Laporta would subsequently meet to travel to Madrid for the Atletico match, again holding conversations about the Dutchman's future.

Who could replace Koeman?

Due to Barcelona's financial situation and the current state of their squad, with no Lionel Messi of course, they are not in a position to be targeting their number one choices.

Though a return of Pep Guardiola of the appointment of Jurgen Klopp is desired, it is currently a fanciful thought.

Names that have been linked with the job are Antonio Conte, Roberto Martinez, Xavi, Luis Enrique and...Jordi Cruyff.

Martinez is believed to be the leading contender at the moment due to a special relationship he has with the current sporting director, the aforementioned Cruyff.

While there are many members of Barcelona's board who would prefer to see the return of Xavi, Martinez is wanted by Cruyff and, crucially, Joan Laporta.

The Barca president has spoken of his admiration for Xavi previously but has insisted that the former midfielder needs more experience as a head coach before taking over at Camp Nou.