Madrid (AFP) – Crisis-hit Barcelona hailed the “return of a legend” as the Spanish giants on Wednesday officially named Ronald Koeman as their new coach through until 2022.
“FC Barcelona and Ronald Koeman have reached an agreement for the Dutchman to take over as first team coach until 30 June 2022,” the club said in a statement.
Former Barca star Koeman, who has been in charge of the Netherlands since 2018, will replace Quique Setien, who was sacked after the Catalans were humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals on Friday.
The 57-year-old, who becomes the fifth Dutchman to coach Barcelona after Rinus Michels, Johan Cruyff, Louis Van Gaal and Frank Rijkaard, will hold a press conference later Wednesday at 1600 GMT.
“More than 30 years after his arrival as a player, Koeman arrives once again as coach at the club that he helped win their very first European Cup back in 1992,” Barcelona said in a statement headlined “Return of a Barca legend”.
“Koeman, the hero of Wembley, is back,” the club added, a day after president Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed the Dutchman would take over.
That night back in 1992, Koeman secured his place in Barca history, scoring the winning goal to claim the Catalan club’s first ever success in Europe’s top club competition.
As a player, Koeman arrived in Barcelona in 1989, at the time the second most expensive signing in the club’s history behind Diego Maradona.
In his six seasons as a Barca player Koeman made 264 official appearances, scoring 88 goals as he shone in Cruyff’s ‘Dream Team’, winning four consecutive La Liga titles between 1991-94.
– Mixed coaching bag –
Koeman’s coaching career, however, has been mixed and he arrives with the 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.
Ex-France international Abidal was replaced Wednesday by Ramon Planes.
Koeman will leave his role as coach of the Netherlands to his assistant Dwight Lodeweges, while the national federation searches for a full-time replacement.
The Oranje take on Poland on September 4 and Italy three days later, in Amsterdam as part of the UEFA Nations League.
“It was an honour to be the national coach of the Netherlands,” said Koeman, who would have been in charge for the 2020 European championships, now postponed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“For the past two-and-a-half years I have done everything I can to achieve successes with the Oranje.
“I look back with pride on what we have achieved together in that period. The Dutch national team has a bright future, I am convinced of that.”
Koeman said that “everyone knows Barcelona is my dream club”.
“It feels very special to me to be able to become a manager there.”
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