After a bit of speculation over the past weeks, Patrick Kluivert, one of Barcelona’s most treasured icons of the past, has officially been appointed the new director of youth football until June 2021. Suddenly, in most odds in the soccer betting sites Barcelona are 1.25 favourites to win La Liga again this season (a slight drop from the average of 1.45) – but, more importantly, it feels like Barcelona are making an effort to take their youth policy seriously once more.
The news arrived as a relief to many Blaugrana fans around the world. Finally, the club are making strides in the right direction and they are finally putting the right people at the right positions. Or are they?
Sure, the appointment of Kluivert definitely strikes a certain chord among the older crop of fans who remember him as a player first and foremost. And yes, he was a magnificent player who played for the club from 1998 to 2004, scoring 145 goals in 308 games in the process, which, as the club’s official statement says, makes him one the highest goalscorers of all time in a Barça jersey. And this is all well and true.
They also continue to say that he has had several tenures in coaching as well as being a technical secretary, most recently assisting his compatriot Clarence Seedorf as the duo led Cameroon. And sure enough, there are a couple of different gigs in his resume but what exactly makes him the right fit for this role?
Is it the role of sporting director at Paris Saint-Germain? Or is it being the assistant manager of the Netherlands? Sure, these things sound impressive, but they are very much a far cry from what his job will consist of now. The head of youth. The head of La Masia.
And yes, we can talk about his roots and stemming from Ajax and knowing what La Masia is all about. And all of that is true but at the same time, none of it makes him a completely qualified man for the job. It’s difficult to say, however, whether he’ll actually be good at it or not. Only time will tell that.
But from a slightly biased point of view, this does seem like an appointment that is used to win over the fans, and not something that’s necessarily the right thing to do. Putting someone of Kluivert’s pedigree and reputation among Barcelona fans at a position of such importance is sure to get the Cules excited.
After all, going back to the roots is exactly what the masses are calling for at the moment. Barcelona are losing talented youngsters left and right and it’s all due to bad management, bad decisions and bad upper hierarchy.
Maybe a revolution does start with a single appointment and maybe Patrick Kluivert really is the one to do it. Just before him, Victor Valdes has also been named the head coach of the U19 team. Talks about the likes of Xavi and Carles Puyol also returning in the not so distant future are still very much alive.
So maybe, just maybe, this is the start of the new age. But all these people have somehow warranted their appointments. Valdes has gotten his coaching badges and Xavi is getting his skills honed at Al-Sadd before he can return back to Catalunya.
There’s definitely a whole process behind this and it exists for a reason. At the moment, Kluivert’s appointment doesn’t seem like the wisest thing to do. But judging by his first words as the head of the youth, his heart is at the right place and whatever experience he might have acquired over the years will only come in handy.
Let’s just hope that he does better than his resume might suggest.