Ronald Koeman walked out of the Nou Camp gates for the final time, as a player, in 1995. A glittering career in Spain had come to an emotional end.
In 350 games wearing the famous claret and deep blue of Barca, Koeman had hit the back of the net 106 times – a remarkable feat for a defender – creating a string of memories along the way and forming a pure infatuation which would never leave him.
It is no secret that Koeman to this day remains utterly obsessed with his former club. He sure makes no attempts to hide it.
The Dutchman is proud to feature as such a storied figure in Barca’s jewelled history. He adores the club and now, at last, the Catalans are handing him the job he has always craved.
Quique Setien has been a dead man walking ever since the 8-2 humiliation by Bayern Munich on Friday night, his sacking set to be confirmed on Monday. It is no secret in Spain that Koeman will be his successor.
Ronald Koeman finds himself on the brink of being offered the one job he has forever craved
In 350 Barca games Koeman hit the back of the net 106 times and became a club icon
There is no longer much use in panicking at the Nou Camp. Put quite simply, the club finds itself at rock bottom.
Barca may boast the world’s greatest footballer in Lionel Messi, but all around him is crumbling. An empire whose last legs have given way.
Friday’s capitulation to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals has marked many ends.
Certainly the end of manager Setien. A likely end for sporting director Eric Abidal, and even club president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Dead wood will be axed from the ranks this summer, while several other bit-part players will be handed their P45s. A revamp from top to bottom is on the cards – a complete and utter cleanse of one of football’s all-time great clubs at one of their lowest ebbs.
And, at long last, Koeman has received the call he has always dreamed of.
Earlier this year Koeman moved his family to settle in his beloved Barcelona, perhaps giving the clearest indication yet of future intentions. Sportsmail takes a closer look at the man catching all the headlines.
During his playing career Koeman turned out for five clubs, four of which being decorated names from his homeland.
Yet despite being fondly remembered by the likes of Ajax and PSV Eindhoven, it is the affinity with Barca which strikes the deepest chord for Koeman.
In this sense the Dutchman sees himself as a one-club man, a footballer forged in the flames of Catalonia who left his own distinct mark upon the club.
A brief stint as assistant boss from 1998-2000 increased Koeman’s desire to manage Barca
Right now, this element of attachment is exactly what a rapidly deteriorating Barca need.
Bit by bit, week by week, the club are losing their sense of self. Even prior to the Bayern blitz in Lisbon – which itself carried a strong feeling of inevitability – one only has to look at how Barca finished their domestic campaign with a miserable slump…