Madrid (AFP) – Newly-appointed Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman said on Monday he plans to take inspiration from former boss Johan Cruyff.
Koeman, who was named as replacement for the sacked Quique Setien last week, played under club and Netherlands legend Cruyff for six years at the Camp Nou as the Catalans won four La Liga titles and the European Cup once.
“Cruyff was one of the coaches who taught me the most, especially during our time with the Dream Team. I didn’t only learn to be a better player but a better coach too,” Koeman told Barca TV.
“We had the best combination. We played attacking football and won titles. That is always the philosophy we have pursued at Barca,” the 57-year-old Dutchman added.
Despite Koeman’s trophy-laden spell with the outfit, where he showed his quality with his set-piece ability, he said he was in the shadow of captain Lionel Messi who is set to begin his 17th senior campaign with the side.
The pair met last week amid media reports linking Messi with a departure.
“It is a pleasure to have a player like Messi in the team. We can’t be compared for our free kick taking because he has scored so many more than me,” Koeman said.
“I was only at Barca for six seasons. But it is important to have someone who is good at free kicks and corners in your team,” he added.
Koeman worked with 23-year-old Barca midfielder Frenkie De Jong at the Dutch national team before he was selected as Setien’s successor.
“He is a very young player. He has been performing very well until now. It isn’t easy for such a young player to come to Barca. He’s a player for the FC Barcelona of the future,” he said.
Later, Catalan radio station RAC1 claimed Koeman has told Uruguay forward Luis Suarez “he doesn’t count on him for next season”.
On Friday the 33-year-old told newspaper El Pais he wished to remain at the Camp Nou with one year left on his contract.
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