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Ronald Koeman: Barcelona’s president says former player will be new head coach

Ronald Koeman (right)
Ronald Koeman (right) arrived at Barcelona’s El Prat airport on Tuesday

Ronald Koeman will be the new manager of Barcelona, says club president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

The 57-year-old, who is currently in charge of the Netherlands, is set to join the La Liga runners-up this week.

Speaking on Tuesday night, Bartomeu said: “Koeman is the one we’ve chosen. If nothing goes wrong he will be the head coach next season.”

Former Netherlands and Barca defender Koeman flew to Barcelona on Tuesday to finalise a deal with the club.

There have been rumours that the team’s star Lionel Messi could leave but Bartomeu said: “Messi wants to end his career at Barca, he has said that many times.

“I have spoken with Koeman and the pillar of our project is Messi.

“He has a contract until 2021, I speak a lot with Leo and more regularly with his father.

“He is number one in the world. There is no doubt that in Koeman’s new project you can count on Messi.”

Bartomeu indicated a squad overhaul was now going to take place.

“The renewal will be as deep as necessary,” he said. “I decided to give this generation the opportunity for another year. Maybe it was time to start the renovation last year.

“There is money but Covid-19 has reduced income so we have to reduce payroll to be able to bring in new footballers.

“The easiest thing would be to resign but I am not doing it because of my responsibility to the club. It is not a club crisis. It is just a sports crisis, which we must fix.”

Koeman, who played for the Catalan giants between 1989 and 1995 and helped them to four league titles and the European Cup, has a contract with the Dutch FA which runs until the 2022 World Cup.

Earlier on Tuesday, when the former Barca player was asked if he wanted to return as manager, he said: “I’d like to, but it’ll only be confirmed once I’ve signed the deal.

“Until then, I cannot say any more about it – even though I’d like to.”

Barcelona parted company with sporting director Eric Abidal on Tuesday, one day after relieving head coach Quique Setien of his duties.

The dismissals come after the club’s humiliating 8-2 defeat by Bayern Munich in the Champions League last eight on Friday.

Meanwhile, Barca’s German goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 28, will be sidelined for 10 weeks after an operation on his right knee.

Ronald Koeman holds the European Cup as a Barcelona player
Koeman helped Barcelona beat Sampdoria to win the 1992 European Cup

Analysis

Guillem Balague, Spanish football expert speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live

Koeman is going to be given a two-year deal. He would have said yes to a one-year deal. He has been trying to get to Barcelona for a long while.

Former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino was contacted and there were talks with him even though the chairman realised the fans wouldn’t like him [as a former Espanyol player and manager].

Pochettino is a better option. There is no doubt about that.

But we’re not talking about the real issue. Barca are a club that’s in disarray with a debt that some calculate could be 700m euros and unable to move on because they spend 70% of their income on wages for the first team.

They have no clear idea where to go next, partly because they can’t get rid of these guys and partly because they’ve got no vision.

Upheaval at Barcelona – timeline
13 January 2020 Quique Setien hired as Barcelona boss on a two-and-a-half-year deal as successor to the sacked Ernesto Valverde
19 January 2020 Wins his first game in charge as Lionel Messi scores the only goal in a 1-0 victory over Granada
6 February 2020 Knocked out of the Copa del Rey at the quarter-final stage by Athletic Bilbao
1 March 2020 Loses El Clasico to Real Madrid, who move above Barcelona at the top of La Liga
16 July 2020 Barca relinquish La Liga title and lose their 30-game home unbeaten run as Osasuna win 2-1 at the Nou Camp
14 August 2020 Barca suffer a record 8-2 defeat by Bayern Munich and are knocked out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals
17 August 2020 Barcelona sack Quique Setien
18 August 2020 Ronald Koeman declares interest in taking vacant position; Barcelona part company with sporting director Eric Abidal

BBCSPORTS

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