Ronald Koeman has been confirmed as Barcelona‘s new manager on a two-year deal.
The 57-year-old arrived at Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat Airport on Tuesday afternoon and signed a deal that has seen him leave his position as boss of the Dutch national team to take the reins of his former club.
Ronald Koeman has been appointed as Barcelona’s new manager on a two-year contract
The Dutchman is pictured arriving at Barcelona’s El Prat airport on Tuesday afternoon
Barcelona sacked manager Quique Setien after Friday’s 8-2 defeat by Bayern Munich
In 350 Barca games, Koeman hit the back of the net 106 times and became a club icon
Koeman will be officially unveiled during a press conference at 5pm (UK time) on Wednesday after penning a contract until the summer of 2022.
The club are yet to confirm who will make up the Dutchman’s backroom team, but former Barca striker Henrik Larssson is in the frame to return as one of Koeman’s assistants.
A statement on Barcelona’s official website following Setien’s sacking read: ‘This is the first decision within a wider restructuring of the first team which will be agreed between the current technical secretary and the new coach, who will be announced in the coming days.’
On Tuesday afternoon, technical director Eric Abidal was dismissed in a remarkable u-turn and pressure is building on club president Josep Maria Bartomeu following the hammering by Bayern, a result seen as the worst in the club’s 120-year history.
‘Barcelona and Eric Abidal have reached an agreement for the ending of the contract that united the two parties,’ the club announced in a short statement on their club website.
Koeman was pictured arriving at Barcelona airport on Tuesday ahead of signing the deal
A brief stint as assistant boss from 1998-2000 increased Koeman’s desire to manage Barca
‘The club would publicly like to thank Eric Abidal for his professionalism, commitment, dedication and the close and positive nature of his relationship with all aspects of the blaugrana family.’
It is a major U-turn from the Catalan giants in the space of just 20 hours, as on Monday they insisted that Abidal would lead the club in their search of a new manager. He has since been replaced by his former assistant, Ramon Planes.
Bartomeu was said to favour the appointment of former Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino but Koeman, who has a house in Barcelona, has been appointed instead.
He already faces the prospect of the sack, however, after Victor Font, a candidate to replace Bartomeu as president, reiterated his desire to appoint club legend Xavi as manager if he wins the club’s elections next year.
Speaking on Spanish radio programme El Larguero on Tuesday night, Font said: ‘Even if Koeman has a great season, I will not change my plans.
‘If I become president, Koeman will not be the coach of Barca in the 2021-22 season.
‘Xavi understands that all the puzzles in the club must be put together. Who will lead the team will be decided by the Board of Directors, in our case it will be him [Xavi].
As a player, Koeman was part of the side which went on to win the 1991-92 European Cup
Koeman (seen challenging David Ginola) was tough in the tackle and an artist with his passing
RONALD KOEMAN’S MANAGERIAL RECORD
Holland (assistant) 1997-98
Barcelona (assistant) 1998-00
Vitesse – 2000-01
Ajax – 2001-05
Benfica – 2005-06
PSV – 2006-07
Valencia – 2007-08
AZ Alkmaar – 2009
Feyenoord – 2011-14
Southampton – 2014-16
Everton – 2016-17
Holland – 2018-present
Eredivisie title (x3), KNVB Cup, Johan Cruyff Shield (x2), Portuguese Super Cup, Copa Del Rey,
‘Messi is completely disappointed because of the critical situation at the club both in sports, and in economic and organisational terms. I expect that Messi will play under Xavi in 2021.’
A deal was struck over the weekend and the former Everton and Southampton boss was confirmed as Barcelona’s new manager on Wednesday morning.
The news of Koeman’s appointment was received well by fans and the Spanish press, who understandably refrained from mincing their words as they condemned Barcelona following the heavy loss in Lisbon last week.
Bartomeu promised a ‘restructure of the first team’ after the defeat but is under intense pressure to resign, with players desperate to see him leave and the Spanish press labelling him ‘the worst president in Barcelona’s history’.
Speaking about the Dutchman – and Lionel Messi’s future – on Tuesday night, Bartomeu said: ‘Koeman will be the new manager and he told me that Messi is a key player for our new project.
‘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 added that Koeman said Messi will be the ‘keystone’ of the new team, but some of the older players will get an ‘honorable goodbye’.
The club’s president also confirmed that only eight players are not for sale this summer. Asked about Ousmane Dembele leaving the club, he replied: ‘He’ll stay. Messi, Ter Stegen, Lenglet, Semedo, De Jong, Griezmann and Dembele are not for sale.
‘We have offers for Ansu Fati but he is not for sale.’
Bartomeu also said that Philippe Coutinho could remain at the Nou Camp as long as Koeman wanted to keep him.
The ex-Valencia boss is popular with supporters having played for Barcelona for six years during a highly successful career that saw him win LaLiga four times, as well as the Copa del Rey and European Cup.
Lionel Messi has big decisions to make, and needs to completely trust Koeman going forwards
Koeman (right, pictured with Michael Laudrup) understands the club’s DNA and expectations
He featured 350 times for the Spanish giants and continues to carry his Barcelona affections with him everywhere he goes. The 57-year-old even has a personalised ‘BAR’ number plate on his black Bentley Continental to reference his link to the club.
Koeman also spent time as assistant manager to Louis van Gaal between 1998 and 2000 – only increasing his desire to become the main man.
He has previously made no secret of his hopes to return to the team in a managerial capacity, confirming he had a clause inserted in his contract with the Dutch FA that allowed him to move to Barcelona after Euro 2020.
In the end, due to tournament being delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, he never oversaw that campaign.
Koeman arrives back at his old club to pick up a side that has gone trophyless for the first time since 2007-08.
At full time on Friday night, Setien, who appeared to know his time was up, told reporters: ‘Right now we feel enormous frustration and all we can do is make conclusions and think about the future.
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu arrived for an extraordinary meeting of directors on Monday morning at which Setien’s fate was sealed as part of a major restructuring
On Tuesday, technical director Eric Abidal (right) left his position at the club after two years
‘Barca is a club that is so great that this will cause us a lot of damage and obviously some things will have to change.
‘The truth is this is a tremendously painful defeat. Barcelona want to recover their identity. Right now, it’s too soon to think about whether I will stay or not. It doesn’t depend on me.
‘We have to reflect, taking the situation into account and the importance that such a humiliating and painful defeat means.
‘I’m hurt, evidently, by such a hefty defeat.The way it came about has been tremendously painful.
‘I’m not worried about my future right now, but a defeat that is very painful for the club and the fans.’I know what a defeat of this calibre means.
‘We have to analyse what happened today from a bigger perspective.
‘I know that the credibility of a coach diminishes when something like this happens. This isn’t what worries me at the moment.’