Roberto Martinez’s cryptic message opens door to Barcelona move as Ronald Koeman faces sack

Koeman is facing increasing pressure after Benfica

comfortably beat his Barcelona side in the

Champions League, with Belgium head coach

Martinez the favourite to replace him.

Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez has opened

the door to an appointment as Barcelona boss with

under-fire Ronald Koeman facing the sack.

Koeman has endured a disastrous spell in charge of

the La Liga giants since taking over last year, with

Barca currently sitting sixth in the Spanish top-flight.

While that is far below what is expected at the Nou

Camp, things have gone even worse in

the Champions League, with Koeman’s men currently

bottom of Group E.

They are still yet to score in the competition this

season, having been dominated by Bayern Munich

and humiliated by Benfica in their opening two

games.

The lowest point of the season so far came in

Portugal on Wednesday, with Barcelona having just a

single shot on target as Benfica comfortably won 3-0.

The defeat also ensured that Barca began their

European campaign with two losses for the first time

since the 1972/73 UEFA Cup.

Only Louis Van Gaal has a worse record in the

Champions League group stages as Barca boss than

Koeman.

And with the latter entering into a war of words with

club president Joan Laporta, his reign appears to be

hanging by a thread.

Belief that the end is near for Koeman at the Nou

Camp increased in the aftermath of their desperately

poor visit to Portugal.

Koeman even hinted that he does not believe that he

has the support of the board in his post-match press

conference.

“I feel supported, very supported by my players here

at Barcelona. And by the club? I don’t know,” he said.

“I’m not going to argue about the level of my team.

There’s no point in comparing this with Barcelona

teams of years gone by. That’s as clear as water.

I can only give you my opinion of my work at the club

– I feel backed by my players and their attitude.”

The man many believe will eventually replace

Koeman in charge of Barcelona is Martinez, who has

enjoyed a relatively successful spell with the Belgian

national team.

And now the Spaniard has dropped a cryptic hint that

he could return to his home country to replace Koeman.

“There is absolutely nothing – and there has been no

contact with Barcelona. I want to fulfil my contract,

but many things may arise along the way,” he told HLN.

Though his contract runs until after the 2022 World

Cup in Qatar, his insistence that “many things may

arise” could be seen as an attempt to open the door

to a move to the Catalan club.

He led them to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup,

though they were knocked out at the quarter-final stage of Euro 2020.

Still, Martinez has proven he has the ability to work

with world-class players having worked with Kevin de

Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku with Belgium.

He also has experience of winning major trophies

and operating under financial restrictions, having won

an FA Cup with Wigan, who had one of the smallest

budgets in the Premier League.

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