Albert Roca leaves Hyderabad FC to join Ronald Koeman's coaching staff at Barcelona

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Hyderabad FC head coach Albert Roca will be joining Ronald Koeman's first team coaching staff as a fitness coach at FC Barcelona, the Indian Super League (ISL) club said on Saturday.

Roca, who was appointed late last season by Hyderabad to replace Phil Brown, hadn't taken charge of the team yet as he had been waiting for the new season to start afresh. Following the change of management at Barcelona, though, they came calling (again) and the obvious allure of being part of one of the biggest clubs in the world appears to have been too compelling.

Roca, who is a Catalan, has already worked at Barca as a member of Frank Rijkaard's staff from 2003 to 2008. He had also followed the Dutchman to Galatasaray and the Saudi Arabian national team, before taking up his first independent charge at El Salvador.

A year later, in 2016, he joined the then I-league club Bengaluru FC, guiding them to the final of the AFC Cup that year - BFC were the first Indian team to make the final of a continental tournament. He remained with the club until 2018, guiding them to the ISL final in their first season in the league.

Then came the Hyderabad job in January 2020. While this will throw the club's plans for the 2020-21 season into a headspin, how they will react to this remains to be seen.

In a statement on the club website, Varun Tripuraneni, Hyderabad FC co-owner said, "I congratulate Albert as he is set for his new role at FC Barcelona. While parting ways with him has been tough to come to terms with, Albert has shown utmost professionalism in his approach and working ways with us right from the start in January, to date."

Within the same statement, Albert Roca said, "For me, it's been a tough decision to make. I am thankful to everyone at HFC for showing immense faith in me since I joined back in January. I am aware that all our fans will be disheartened but believe me, it's not an easy goodbye for me either. I wish HFC the very best for the upcoming season and the future." He added that he would assisting the management during the transition phase.

Roca's task at Barcelona will not be an easy one, with the new management coming into the club at a time of great crisis, the club in the middle of grappling with a question they had never really given much thought to previously - what happens if Lionel Messi leaves?