Barcelona have announced the departure of sporting director Eric Abidal, just one day after sacking head coach Quique Setien.
Abidal, a former Barcelona defender and two-times Champions League winner with the club, had been in the role for over two years.
The Spanish club acted quickly to agree a deal in principle to bring in Netherlands head coach Ronald Koeman to replace Setien.
One of Abdial’s final acts in his role as Barcelona sporting director was to inform Setien of the club’s decision to let him go in a meeting in the days following last week’s elimination from the Champions League.
Spanish football journalist Alvaro Montero says Barcelona are expected to officially announce Ronald Koeman as their new head coach on Wednesday
Barcelona announced the departure in a statement on Tuesday: “The FC Barcelona and Eric Abidal have reached an agreement for the termination of the contract binding both parties.
“The Club publicly expresses its gratitude to Éric Abidal for the professionalism, commitment, dedication and positive and close treatment that he has always shown towards all the estates that make up the Barça family, and wishes him luck and success in the future.”
Barca resist calls for immediate presidential elections
The club have also brought forward the date of the next presidential elections, which will now take place on the first matchday after March 15, 2021.
Elections have normally taken place in the summer, usually in June, but they have resisted calls for an immediate ballot to be held, saying it is “not feasible”.
“After considering all options, the board consider this to be the most viable date for the aforementioned elections,” a statement read.
“The board understand that an immediate call for elections is not feasible, given that the league season will begin on the weekend of September 12, 2020, and the situation arising from the COVID-19 crisis – both economically and socially.
“Consequently, the club will continue to implement the plan to reverse the sporting and economic situation, based on profound changes to the first team, plus a redefined budget to deal with the new situation caused by COVID-19, before the end of the current mandate.”
Analysis: Koeman in for one year only?
Spanish football expert Graham Hunter says Lionel Messi’s future at Barcelona is ‘complicated’ with his contract expiring in 2021
“There’s a clear formula why they are talking to Ronald Koeman, and why he’s the one they want. Number one, it’s absolutely clear within the next year there will be presidential elections, the man who is very well placed to win those, Victor Font is absolutely committed to bringing Xavi,” Hunter said.
“So this is currently a one-year shot. Koeman is being told he can have a two-year deal which effectively seems to mean a year of work and almost certainly a year of compensation. The fact is that when the new president comes in, Font is completely committed to Xavi.
Spanish football journalist Alvaro Montero believes Barcelona remains the best option for Lionel Messi and expects the forward to remain at the club
“Xavi won’t come in the mean time, so it needs someone of experience, someone who knows the Nou Camp inside out, speaks the language and has a good reputation of coaching younger players – there are players on the fringes at Barcelona.
“That’s why Koeman fits all those boxes, and it would appear Barcelona have fixed this deal with the Netherlands, and that Koeman, who has wanted this job for 20 years has said I’ll roll the dice, I’ll risk it only being a year.”