3 Barcelona players who could benefit from Quique Setien's appointment
That is why, news of Ernesto Valverde's dismissal on Monday was greeted with widespread relief and happiness from Barca supporters. Many of them feel the Spaniard's tenure worsened with time and that the 55-year-old Spaniard should have been sacked a long time ago.
Their Spanish Super Cup defeat at the hands of Atletico Madrid on Wednesday was their first loss across all competitions since 2 November against Levante, but ultimately to be proved the writing on the wall.
Despite speculation suggesting legendary midfielder Xavi was poised to take over this week, former Real Betis head coach Quique Setien has been appointed on a two-and-a-half year deal instead. The 61-year-old will make his debut at the Camp Nou, as Barca host mid-table Granada on Sunday night.
It'll be interesting to see how Setien handles such responsibility and power, as there will be multiple players keen to impress their new boss. These players would either be looking to earn more first-team minutes, or simply justify their worth in existing roles going forward.
Without further ado, here's a look at three players who could benefit from Setien's appointment:
Honourable mentions go to Moussa Wagué, who'll be pushing for Nelson Semedo's right-back berth, and Samuel Umtiti, who would be determined to make up for lost time after troublesome injuries saw his stock drop dramatically last season.
#3 Ansu Fati
This list wouldn't be fair without including Barca's record-breaker, Ansu Fati. The Spain under-21 international turned 17 at the end of October, yet proved that age is just a number with his brilliant UCL match-winner against Inter Milan last month.
That goal made him the youngest goalscorer in Champions League history. It also ensured Barcelona finished a tricky Group F unbeaten and more importantly with a morale-boosting victory before the knockout stages resume in late February.
By the time they travel to Napoli on 25 February, winger Ousmane Dembélé is expected to be back. He had sustained yet another hamstring problem on MD5, against his former club Borussia Dortmund.
Fati has only made two fleeting appearances since that evening in Italy: an impressive cameo during their goalless draw in El Clasico on 18 December, and a futile two minutes during the 3-2 defeat to Atletico last week. Given his current ability, Barca's creativity issues and their need for another dimension not named Messi, he deserves more.
Whether he'll get enough chances or not over the next month remains to be seen. But should he impress, there's no reason why he won't assert himself as a mainstay in what you expect to be a three-pronged attack alongside Messi and Griezmann, availability permitting.