A timeline of Barcelona’s dramatic 2021

Barcelona sacked head coach Ronald Koeman after Wednesday night’s LaLiga defeat to Rayo Vallecano left them ninth in the table.

The Catalan giants, crippled by huge debts, are six points adrift of leaders Real Madrid after 10 matches and have lost two of their first three Champions League group games.

Here, the PA news agency looks back at the club’s continued fall during Joan Laporta’s second spell as club president.

March 7, 2021 – Laporta is elected as Barcelona president for a second time, just days after the club announced it was co-operating with a Catalan Police investigation into allegations Barca had conspired to disparage certain people associated with the club on social media. Barca deny the accusations.

March 10 – Barcelona suffer their earliest Champions League exit in 14 years when humbled 5-2 on aggregate by Paris St Germain in the last 16.

March 17 – Laporta says during his inauguration ceremony at the Nou Camp that he will try and persuade Lionel Messi to stay at the club.

April 19 – Barca confirm they are one of 12 clubs who have agreed to join a new European Super League (ESL).

April 21 – All six Premier League teams involved in the ESL announce their withdrawal from the competition as Barca await approval from their Season Ticket Holders Assembly to go ahead with the plans.

May 16 – Barca’s dwindling hopes of winning the LaLiga title are ended after a 2-1 home defeat Celta Vigo and Koeman admits afterwards it “is impossible to play without” Messi.

June 30 – Messi becomes a free agent as his four-year deal expires and is widely linked with a move to Manchester City or Paris St Germain.

July 30 – Barca, Real Madrid and Juventus release a joint statement saying they will continue with their ESL plans, claiming to have successfully argued against any punishment by UEFA.

August 5 – Barca announce that despite reaching an agreement over a new deal, Messi is unable to sign after “financial and structural obstacles” made it impossible to renew his contract.

August 6 – Laporta says keeping Messi would have put the club at risk “for the next 50 years” at a press conference to explain the player’s departure.

August 8 – A tearful Messi holds a farewell press conference in Barcelona at which he reveals he had expected to extend his stay at the Nou Camp.

August 10 – Messi signs a two-year deal with PSG, with the option of a third year.

August 16 – Laporta reveals the club are 1.35billion euros (£1.15bn) in debt and blames predecessor Josep Bartomeu for a “terrible inheritance” which he says sees club salaries representing 103 per cent of income at the Nou Camp.

September 28 – UEFA halts disciplinary action against Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid over their involvement in the ESL as the matter is referred to the European Court of Justice.

October 17 – Laporta vows Barca will remain a fan-owned club during his presidency. He says the club have begun a refinancing operation with the aid of a 10-year loan and players’ contracts will be renegotiated in a bid to reduce the payroll from £480m to £348m.

October 27 – Barca follow up a home El Clasico defeat to Real Madrid with a 1-0 defeat at Rayo Vallecano and slip to ninth in LaLiga, prompting Koeman’s dismissal.

October 28 – Barcelona B team boss Sergi Barjuan is named as first-team head coach on an interim basis.

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