Koeman will not be sacked after Atletico game, says Laporta

Madrid (AFP) – Ronald Koeman will stay on as Barcelona coach regardless of the result against Atletico Madrid on Saturday, club president Joan Laporta has said.

Koeman’s future has been in serious doubt after Barca were beaten 3-0 by Benfica in the Champions League on Wednesday, a defeat that leaves them bottom of the group.

But Laporta, speaking ahead of Saturday’s game against La Liga champions Atletico Madrid, said: “Koeman will continue as Barca coach. He has the benefit of the doubt regardless of today’s result.”

Laporta has reportedly been considering Roberto Martinez, Xavi Hernandez and Andrea Piro as potential replacements but the job would be a huge challenge, given Barca’s atrocious financial situation.

Koeman said on Friday media reports about his exit were “probably true” but admitted he had not been told anything by the club.

“He deserves the benefit of the doubt because above all he is one of us,” said Laporta. “I value a lot that he became coach of Barcelona in moments of great financial and institutional difficulty.

“He lifted spirits. After speaking with him I see that he has confidence in the team, especially when the team gets some key players back from injury.”

Barcelona have won only one of their last five matches in all competitions ahead of the visit to the Wanda Metropolitan later on Saturday.

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