Madrid (AFP) – Ronald Koeman is set to take his dream job at Barcelona after the Catalan giants’ president Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed on Tuesday the Dutchman will be their next coach.
Former Barca star Koeman, who has been in charge of the Netherlands since 2018, will replace Quique Setien, who was sacked after Barca were humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals on Friday.
“Koeman will be Barca’s coach next season,” Bartomeu told the side’s television channel.
“If everything goes OK, Koeman will be the coach we announce and will guide this team and the players with a different project.
“It’s someone the supporters know well, not just as a player but also as a coach.”
According to reports Koeman and his agent were negotiating a two-year contract late on Monday, with the second year dependent on the outcome of the presidential elections.
Koeman is a hero at Barca after shining in Johan Cruyff’s ‘Dream Team’, with whom he won for La Liga titles in the row between 1991 and 1994.
He also scored the winning goal in the 1992 European Cup final — the Catalan club’s first ever success in Europe’s top club competition.
He has said coaching Barcelona would be his “dream” job, and he leaves his country’s national team after two-and-a-half years in charge to grab his opportunity.
His coaching career has been mixed and he arrives with Catalans in crisis.
Setien was fired on Monday after the embarrassment against Bayern which meant Barca finish the season trophy-less for the first time since 2007.
Earlier on Tuesday sporting director Eric Abidal was axed, paying the price for the Bayern trouncing and internal conflict that took place during a league season that saw them surrender the La Liga title to Real Madrid.
– Bartomeu under fire –
Abidal was criticised for his handling of the dismissal of then coach Ernesto Valverde in January.
The former left-back blamed the players for Valverde’s dismissal in an interview, provoking an angry reaction from the club’s normally discreet superstar Lionel Messi.
Bartomeu’s own position is also under threat according to reports with June’s presidential elections moved forward to March 15.
Mauricio Pochettino was also considered as a replacement for Setien but his previous comments dismissing Barca due to his links with rivals Espanyol have counted against him.
Bartomeu announced he would be putting the full weight of Barca’s resources behind the new coach, promoting that “the renewal of the workforce will be as deep as it takes for the new project to be successful”.
“We will set ourselves up to win everything. It is a goal, a necessity, and an aspiration,” he said.
He insisted Messi would be the “cornerstone” of Barcelona under Koeman, with rumours the Argentin forward was looking to leave the club for which he has played his entire senior career.
“Messi remains the best player in the world. He is number one and he is with us,” said Bartomeu.
“Every project we do, we do it knowing that we have the best player in the world… And in the new project, Koeman can absolutely count on Messi.
“Messi wants to end his career at Barca, he has said it several times. I spoke with Koeman, who told me that Messi was the cornerstone of his project.”
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