Ronald Koeman refused to be drawn over the future of Philippe Coutinho but did reveal Frenkie de Jong will be key to a new-look Barcelona.

Coutinho remains the LaLiga club's record signing but has struggled to live up to expectations following his big-money move from Liverpool, leading to him going on loan to Bayern Munich.

That season-long deal came back to haunt Barca in the Champions League, however, as the Brazilian scored Bayern's final two goals in the 8-2 quarter-final rout that led to the sacking of Quique Setien.

Koeman was confirmed in the job on Wednesday, the Dutchman handed the difficult task of overseeing a major overhaul at Camp Nou.

As it stands, Coutinho is set to return ahead of the 2020-21 season and while heavily linked with a move to Arsenal, the 28-year-old could still be part of the new coach's plans.

"He is a Barcelona player and if decisions have to be made, we will make them," Koeman said at a press conference when asked about Coutinho.

"Now I have more time to get to know the young people out there. It is a time to give young people possibilities. We have no doubts about putting young people in when they deserve it.

"You have to have a balance between experience and youth. We have to play with more intensity."

While Koeman refused to commit one way or the other over Coutinho, he left no doubt over De Jong's status ahead of the expected rebuild.

The former Netherlands boss knows all about his compatriot from their time together with the national team, with the plan seemingly for De Jong to revert to the position he excelled in with Ajax.

A move to a more deep-lying role in midfield for the 23-year-old would come at the expense of Sergio Busquets, who may find himself pushed out of contention amid the changes.

"For a player who comes to Barca, his first year is always complicated," Koeman said of De Jong. "The positive thing is that he has played many games.

"He has not played in his position. For me, the most important thing is to find the position in which the players sit more comfortable. If you get it, they get the best performance."

Barca had two different coaches in charge across a disappointing 2019-20 campaign, Setien having been appointed in January following the departure of Ernesto Valverde.

They did sit top of the table in Spain upon the restart following the enforced break due to the coronavirus pandemic, yet ended up finishing second to rivals Real Madrid.

Lionel Messi will be at the heart of Ronald Koeman's plans as Barcelona head coach so long as the "best player in the world" wishes to remain at Camp Nou.

Koeman was unveiled as Quique Setien's successor on Wednesday, continuing a tempestuous few days at Barca following their humiliating 8-2 Champions League quarter-final loss to Bayern Munich.

Sporting director Eric Abidal departed after handling Setien's sacking, although reports Messi wishes to leave the club have arguably caused the biggest shockwaves.

Under-fire president Josep Maria Bartomeu told Barcelona's in-house television channel that Messi will be part of the club's immediate future, despite conceding he had not spoken to the player in the aftermath of the Bayern debacle.

Predictably, Messi was a prominent topic of conversation when Koeman faced reporters for the first time in a role he left his Netherlands post to take up.

"Messi is the best player in the world and you want the best player in the world on your team," he said.

"I don't know if I have to convince him [to stay]. I would love to work with him because he wins you games. If he gets the usual performance, I'm very happy that he stays.

"He has a contract. You have to talk to him, of course, he is captain of the team. We have to talk to several players. We have to make decisions. In the case of Messi, I hope he will be here for more years.

"If I tell you what I'm going to say to Leo, I don't need to meet him. They are private things. I want him to tell me what he thinks. But come on, he has one year left on his contract."

In his surprisingly wide-ranging address on Tuesday, Bartomeu said Messi was among a select group of players who were not for sale in the first-team squad that also includes Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Frenkie de Jong, Clement Lenglet, Ousmane Dembele, Antoine Griezmann and Ansu Fati.

Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets were among the notable omissions from that list but Koeman insists the more experienced members of his squad will have a chance to prove themselves.

Asked whether the nucleus of the Barcelona first-team needed to be replaced, he replied: "I think not, in principle. A 32-year-old player is not finished.

"Everything is about how hungry he is, how hungry he is to give everything.

"There are people at 20 years old who lack hunger and work ethic. I just want to work with people who want to be here.

"Whoever doesn't like it, go to the club and tell them. I just want to work with people who want to do their best for Barcelona."

When asked specifically about Suarez, he added: "Messi is different because he is the captain of the team, but I am not going to talk about the players.

"First I want to talk to them. I am not going to do that out of respect for the players."

Koeman scored the winning goal when Barcelona first became champions of Europe with a 1-0 win over Sampdoria at Wembley in 1992.

As such, he conceded last Friday's mauling at the hands of Bayern was a tough watch.

"I'm very sad about the result," he said. "I think it can't be, even if it is a team as good as this Bayern. After that sad day, we will have different days.

"This is not about a revolution, but if changes are best for the club, there will be changes.

"We will do it speaking with the players. What we saw versus Bayern was not the Barca we want. We want a very different image."

Ronald Koeman has been appointed as Barcelona's new head coach, replacing Quique Setien.

Setien paid the price after seven months in charge resulted in no LaLiga title and a Champions League humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich.

Koeman leaves his role with the Netherlands to take charge at Camp Nou – where he was formerly a star player and assistant manager - on a two-year contract. 

It is his first club job since he left Everton in October 2017 and the stakes could not be higher with Lionel Messi entering the closing stages of his career.

We use Opta statistics to review Koeman's coaching career to date as he begins his 11th job as a head coach.

Ronald returns - Koeman has now coached four of the five teams he represented during his playing career (Ajax, PSV, Barcelona and Feyenoord), with Groningen being the only exception.

Progress made - With Koeman in charge, the Netherlands qualified for Euro 2020, their first major tournament since the 2014 World Cup.

Improved fortunes - He won nine of his 14 competitive games as Netherlands boss, one fewer than his four predecessors put together (10 wins out of 20 with Guus Hiddink, Danny Blind, Fred Grim and Dick Advocaat).

Strong finish - Koeman remained unbeaten as manager in his last six Netherlands games, this was the longest such run for Oranje since July 2014.

Facing Barca - He has come up against Barcelona five times as a coach before (twice with Benfica and three times with Valencia) – he won only one of those five meetings (D2 L2) and neither of the two at Camp Nou (D1 L1).

Dutch greats - He becomes the fifth Dutch head coach at Barcelona; each of the previous four are in an illustrious list featuring the top-five bosses who have taken charge of the most LaLiga games for the club. Pep Guardiola is the other name.

Spanish struggles - This is Koeman's second time in charge of a LaLiga side. He was previously at Valencia, where he won only five of his 23 league games. His 22 per cent win rate remains the lowest of any Valencia coach to have overseen at least 20 LaLiga matches.

Almighty in Amsterdam - Ajax (December 2001 – February 2005) are the team where Koeman managed the most league matches (110), recorded the most victories (78) and had the highest win percentage (70.9).

Strong spell - Koeman lost only 24 league games as head coach in a six-year period in charge of Ajax, Benfica and PSV before landing the Valencia job in November 2007. 

Testing times - Aside from his poor spell with Valencia, Koeman's previous two club jobs, with Southampton and Everton, returned the lowest win percentages of his coaching career (47.4 and 40.4 per cent respectively).

Barcelona have turned to Ronald Koeman following a dismal end to their 2019-20 season.

Koeman was on Wednesday appointed as head coach on a two-year deal, leaving his role with the Netherlands to return to Camp Nou.

Quique Setien and sporting director Eric Abidal were sacked in the wake of Friday's humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals, which followed Barca's failure to retain their LaLiga crown.

Barca will hope Koeman is the right man to get them back on track, and we have taken a look at how he fared in his previous managerial roles.


Vitesse (1999-2001) - Success

Koeman's first managerial position provided an impressive outcome as he steered Vitesse to fourth place in the Eredivisie, earning qualification to the UEFA Cup. However, the club soon entered financial trouble after chairman Karel Aalbers was fired and, despite the limited budget, the Dutchman led them to sixth in 2000-01 and left with a 49.2 win percentage in the Eredivisie.

Ajax (2001-05) - Success

After taking over mid-season Koeman led Ajax, who boasted a team including Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Rafael van der Vaart, to a domestic double in 2001-02. They reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League the following season and regained the Eredivisie in 2003-04, but, despite winning 70.9 per cent of his top flight games, discord arose between players and the hierarchy prior to his resignation.

Benfica (2005-06) - Failure

Supertaca Candido de Oliveira glory got Koeman off to a great start at Benfica and they impressed in the Champions League, eliminating Manchester United in the final group game and Liverpool in the last 16 before being knocked out by Barca. However, they won 20 of their 34 games as they finished third in the Primeira Liga, which Porto won as part of a domestic double.

PSV (2006-07) - Success

Koeman made a successful return to the Netherlands with another of his former clubs. He oversaw a dramatic final-day victory to clinch an Eredivisie title that had previously looked a foregone conclusion and reached the Champions League quarter-finals once more. He lost just five of his 43 league games at the helm before departing.

Valencia (2007-08) - Failure

It is fair to say Koeman's first head coaching role in Spain was an unmitigated disaster. He failed to guide Valencia out of their Champions League group and won just five of his 23 LaLiga games at the helm. Despite winning the Copa del Rey, he had a 21.7 win percentage in LaLiga – the lowest of any Valencia coach with over 20 games – and was dismissed after six months with the club two points clear of the relegation zone.

AZ (2009) - Failure

Koeman was unable to bounce back at AZ, who Louis van Gaal left for Bayern Munich after winning the 2008-09 Eredivisie. Koeman won the Johan Cruyff Shield – his most recent trophy as a coach – but was unable to guide them into the Champions League knockouts and won just 50 per cent of his 16 league games, meaning they were 16 points adrift of leaders Twente when he was let go in December.

Feyenoord (2011-14) - Success

Feyenoord turned to Koeman after experiencing their worst league finish in 20 years and during his tenure they were twice runners-up in the Eredivisie. He had a 60.8 win percentage in the Eredivisie and won the Rinus Michels Award for his work in his first season at De Kuip.

Southampton (2014-16) - Success

Replacing Mauricio Pochettino was always going to be a tall order but Koeman surpassed the achievements of his predecessor. He led them to their highest Premier League finish of sixth – which earned qualification to the Europa League – in his second season with the club and left with a 47.4 win percentage in the top flight.

Everton (2016-17) - Failure

After securing Europa League qualification in his first season at the helm, Koeman spent roughly £150million on new signings. However, the Toffees went into 2017-18 without their highest scoring player from the previous campaign, Romelu Lukaku, who was sold to Manchester United, and when two wins from nine Premier League games left them in the relegation zone Koeman was sacked. A win percentage of 40.4 in the league was the second-worst of his career.

Netherlands (2018-20) - Success

Koeman restored his reputation somewhat by turning things around for the Netherlands, who had failed to qualify for Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup. They won a Nations League group containing world champions France and Germany – but lost to Portugal in the Finals showpiece – and qualified for Euro 2020.

Ronald Koeman said "it feels very special" to be appointed head coach of his "dream club" Barcelona.

Barca on Wednesday announced Koeman as the successor to Quique Setien, who was let go following the 8-2 hammering at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals on Friday.

Koeman, who spent six years at Camp Nou as a player under Johan Cruyff and served as an assistant to Louis van Gaal for two, has left his role as head coach of the Netherlands to sign a two-year contract with the Catalan giants.

"It was an honour to be the national coach of the Netherlands. Over the past two and a half years, I have done everything I can to achieve success with Oranje," he said in a statement published by the Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB).

"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.

"Everyone knows that Barcelona is my dream club. It feels very special to me to be able to become a coach there."

Koeman was appointed Netherlands boss in 2018, after they failed to qualify for that year's World Cup following the disappointment of missing out on a place at Euro 2016.

The 57-year-old had an immediate impact, gaining Oranje a place in the inaugural Nations League Finals – where they were beaten to the trophy by Portugal – by winning a group that included World Cup winners France and Germany.

Arsene Wenger dismissed a report he will take over from Koeman ahead of Euro 2020, which was postponed until next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Dwight Lodeweges has been named interim Netherlands boss until a permanent successor is appointed.

KNVB director of football Eric Gudde said: "We regret Ronald's decision, but respect his choice.

"In the period Ronald has been national coach, he has achieved very good results with the Dutch national team. He has given Oranje colour in its cheeks again after a number of difficult years and we are very grateful to him for that.

"Meanwhile, the group of players has developed tremendously, in that respect we can continue on the same patch."

Koeman is set to oversee a significant overhaul of the playing staff at Barcelona after their Champions League humiliation and Real Madrid dethroning them in LaLiga.

The majority of senior players are reported to be up for sale, with Lionel Messi alleged to be seeking an exit from Camp Nou.

Sporting director Eric Abidal had his contract terminated by mutual consent on Tuesday so Koeman will work alongside Ramon Planes, who was promoted as the Frenchman's replacement on Wednesday.

Ronald Koeman has returned to Barcelona as head coach following Quique Setien's sacking.

The Dutchman leaves his role as boss of the Netherlands, having agreed a two-year deal at Camp Nou.

Setien's sacking was confirmed after just seven months in charge, as he paid the price for Barca's failure to win LaLiga and their 8-2 Champions League humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich.

Koeman becomes Barca's fifth Dutch coach, following in the footsteps of Rinus Michels, Johan Cruyff, Louis van Gaal and Frank Rijkaard.

The former Netherlands boss also turned out for the Blaugrana as a player between 1989 and 1995, securing his place among the club's greatest ever Dutchmen. Here, we take a look at those key figures in the club's history.

Johan Cruyff

It is impossible to start this list in any other way than with the legendary Cruyff, a man so synonymous with Barcelona. Cruyff joined from Ajax - Koeman's former club - winning LaLiga and the Copa del Rey during a five-year playing stint. The graceful forward would return to Camp Nou as head coach, winning four LaLiga titles, a Copa, a Cup Winners' Cup and a European Cup with his "Total Football" style in a golden era for the club.

Johan Neeskens

A player whose grace and artistry made him so adored by fans, Johan Neeskens' career trajectory took a very similar path to Cruyff's. While trophies may not have arrived with such regularity as they did at Ajax – just one LaLiga and one Copa trophy in five years – Neeskens is considered one of the best Dutch midfielders of all time, reaching World Cup finals in 1974 and 1978.

Ronald Koeman

Renowned for his composure on the ball, the new boss was a class act as a player, capable of operating in defence or midfield. After leaving Ajax in 1986, Koeman arrived at Barca from PSV three years later to play for Cruyff and was a lynchpin of the team that accumulated so much silverware. He will now get the opportunity to add to that haul from the dugout at Camp Nou.

Patrick Kluivert

Described by former coach and compatriot Van Gaal as the "perfect striker", Patrick Kluivert certainly lived up to such a billing at Camp Nou. The powerful striker enjoyed a prolific six-year spell at Barca. His only major honour during that time was the 1998-99 LaLiga title, but Kluivert remains a popular figure among the club's fanbase and is now their academy director.

Frank de Boer

An uncompromising and classy defender, Frank de Boer arrived at Barcelona in January 1999 having previously won the Champions League as part of the legendary 1994-95 Ajax team that also included fellow Barca alumni Michael Reiziger, Edgar Davids, Marc Overmars, Winston Bogarde, Kluivert and twin brother Ronald and was coached by Van Gaal – the man who then brought him to Catalonia. He made 112 appearances for his country and featured just shy of 150 times in LaLiga for Barca, who he won a league title with. 

Frank Rijkaard

Rijkaard was the Blaugrana's most recent Dutch coach until Koeman's appointment. As a player, the defender starred alongside Koeman in Netherlands' 1988 European Championship success, but he came to Barca having struggled in his early coaching roles. Rijkaard had an immediate impact upon his arrival in 2003, turning the team into title contenders and then winning LaLiga in 2004-05 and 2005-06. The second title triumph coincided with Champions League glory, too, just their second European Cup at the time.

Ronald Koeman has been hired as Barcelona's new head coach following Monday's dismissal of Quique Setien.

The Dutchman leaves his role as head coach of the Netherlands, having agreed a two-year deal at Camp Nou.

Setien's sacking was confirmed after just seven months in charge, as he paid the price for Barca's failure to win LaLiga and their 8-2 Champions League humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich.

That quarter-final defeat last Friday was Barca's worst since 1946 and others could yet follow Setien out of the door.

First-team technical secretary Eric Abidal has also left after his position came under severe scrutiny, while president Josep Maria Bartomeu confirmed the club's elections have been brought forward to March but has resisted calls to step down. The incumbent will not be able to stand for presidency again.

Before Koeman was confirmed, Barca announced the appointment of Ramon Planes to replace Abidal.

Changes are coming for Barca and the arrival of Koeman, who spent six years with the club as a player until 1995 and was also Louis van Gaal's assistant from 1998 to 2000, is chief among them.

Koeman had been working as head coach of his whom nation, having taken charge following Dick Advocaat's failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

His impact with the Oranje was swift, leading them to the Nations League final last year and winning six of eight Euro 2020 qualifiers – their solitary defeat coming to Germany in March 2019 – en route to securing a place at the finals.

Koeman was approached by Barca when Ernesto Valverde was sacked in January but turned them down, citing his commitment to leading the Netherlands through Euro 2020. However, the tournament was postponed by a year due to coronavirus and Koeman's personal circumstances shifted when he was hospitalised for heart surgery in May.

Barca will now hope Koeman can elicit a similar response at Camp Nou as he did with his national team, but he is facing an uphill battle.

Captain and talisman Lionel Messi has reportedly told the club he wants to leave as soon as possible, while Gerard Pique has called for wholesale changes and even offered to move on for the benefit of the team.

Barca will also be without Marc-Andre ter Stegen until November after the goalkeeper had knee surgery, and the impact of the COVID-19 crisis is likely to make significant spending in the transfer market difficult.

Koeman will not have long to implement any changes, either. The 2020-21 LaLiga season is due to begin in a little under a month's time.

It is widely thought Koeman is seen as a stop-gap until the club can convince former midfielder Xavi – now coach of Al Sadd – to return, having so far been unsuccessful in their attempts to bring him back. Presidential candidate Victor Font has named the ex-Spain star as a top target should he win the election.

Mauricio Pochettino had also been mentioned as a possible option and was apparently favoured by Bartomeu, but media reports claim the board refused to sanction his appointment due to his connections to local rivals Espanyol and disparaging comments he had previously made regarding the Blaugrana.

Ronald Koeman has been hired as Barcelona's new head coach following Monday's dismissal of Quique Setien.



Barcelona are "boiling" in a "sporting crisis" following their Champions League humiliation, says their former defender Javier Mascherano.

Bayern Munich thrashed Barca 8-2 at the Estadio da Luz on Friday, handing the Catalan giants their biggest defeat in Europe and heaviest loss in any competition since 1946.

It capped a disappointing end to the 2019-20 season for the Blaugrana, who took a two-point lead at the top of LaLiga into the hiatus amid the coronavirus pandemic but ended up being dethroned by Real Madrid and finishing five points adrift of the new champions.

Head coach Quique Setien, who replaced Ernesto Valverde when the team were top of the league in February, has been sacked, while sporting director Eric Abidal has been relieved of his duties.

Presidential elections have been called for next year and Mascherano, who was a Champions League winner with Barca under Pep Guardiola in 2010-11 and part of Luis Enrique's treble-winning side in 2014-15, believes the club has drifted away from what made it successful during his time at Camp Nou.

"All I know is what I read and what I hear. I've not talked to Leo [Messi] – it is not the time to bother them about what is happening – but I understand there is a sporting crisis," Mascherano told TNT Sports.

"The truth is that the club is boiling. It is a club which demands not only results, but also to maintain a style of play.

"That is what Barcelona fans are demanding: to re-lay the foundations of what the club was a few years ago, taking up the philosophy that made Barca different from other clubs."

Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu hopes to appoint Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman ahead of the 2020-21 season.

Koeman played for Barca for six years during Johan Cruyff's illustrious tenure and was an assistant to Louis van Gaal before moving into senior management.

Mascherano hopes the 57-year-old Dutchman is the right man to get the club back on track.

"Barca is a special club because people are taught to watch football, because people for 30 years understand this is the way [to play] and that's why it is not enough just to win," said Mascherano.

"The way you do it is important and is perhaps what they ended up reproaching Valverde for last season. The team was winning but did not fulfil what the fans required in terms of playing.

"Hopefully, if from what they say Koeman will be the new coach, he can be the one who can re-lay the foundations of Barcelona and return to that style that provided so many results, but above all that made the team so different to others."

Lionel Messi reportedly has Barcelona in "suspense" amid talk over his future.

Messi, 33, has been linked with a move away from the LaLiga giants amid chaos at the club following their capitulation in the Champions League.

Contracted until 2021, Messi's future has become a major talking point.



Barcelona are in suspense amid uncertainty over Messi's future, according to Marca.

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu said on Tuesday he expected Messi to lead the club into the future under Ronald Koeman.

TuttoMercatoWeb reports only Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain or Inter would be able to afford the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.



- Staying at Barcelona and Mundo Deportivo reports Koeman wants a two-year deal at the club and Henrik Larsson as one of his assistants at Camp Nou.

- Chelsea continue to chase Kai Havertz. Sport Bild claims negotiations between the Premier League club and Bayer Leverkusen started last week and Havertz will become the most expensive German player of all-time.

- Will Kalidou Koulibaly leave Napoli? The Mirror reports City are being invited to make a £60million (€66.6m) move for the defender, who Napoli want to replace with Lille's Gabriel Magalhaes. ESPN says Arsenal are hopeful of sealing a deal for Gabriel for around £22m (€24.4m).

- Leeds United could be preparing to strengthen on their return to the Premier League. The Evening Standard reports Leeds are interested in Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi.

- Benfica could be nearing two big signings. Gianluca Di Marzio says the Portuguese giants want Inter midfielder Joao Mario, while Record reports Benfica are close to completing a deal for former Paris Saint-Germain star Edinson Cavani.

- Having signed Blaise Matuidi, Inter Miami may add some firepower. DIRECTV Peru says the MLS club have started talks to sign former PSV and Schalke forward Jefferson Farfan.

Barcelona will take "drastic" steps to arrest their decline and famous faces will be pushed towards the exit door, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu has declared.

In a startlingly explicit message, Bartomeu said the time had come for change at Camp Nou, and he committed to swingeing cuts of the playing staff.

Bartomeu said some players have already been told their time is up, and that for others a quiet word would soon be coming.

The Barcelona squad contains a host of players over 30 whose best days are behind them, and for whom diminishing returns have already set in.

Speaking to Barca TV, Bartomeu said: "The technical secretariat and the new coach will take drastic measures and affect certain players who must leave with all honours.

"They are players who have given their best and have given Barca the best years."

He explained: "Some of them already know it because they have been spoken to in recent times. A conversation will be held with the players to explain their situation.

"The first thing to do is talk to the players first out of respect for them. They are legendary players who have to leave with all the honours, but you have to talk to them."

Bartomeu knows a big rebuilding job is coming but the financial impact of COVID-19 is taking a major toll on the club's finances.

Their wage bill is the highest in Spain, and much of that money is going to the experienced players Barcelona would like to find new homes.

Despite repeatedly flagging financial concerns in recent weeks, Bartomeu said: "Barca has money. The problem is the wage bill. We have salary limits based on income. Therefore, we have to reduce the team's salary mass to be able to bring in new players."

He said conversations would take place with new coach Ronald Koeman about the likes of long-time target Lautaro Martinez, the Inter striker that Barcelona fancy bringing to Spain.

"We stopped the negotiations a few weeks ago and we will see what the new coach and the secretariat think," Bartomeu said.

Cashing in on young talent would be an easy way to raise funds, but Barcelona are minded to look towards their La Masia academy to bolster the ageing first-team squad rather than as a production line from which other clubs can pick off talent.

He said Barcelona have received offers for young striker Ansu Fati, adding: "Many clubs love him, but we don't want to sell him. He knows it."

As well as insisting Lionel Messi will stay, Bartomeu said there are "many others who are non-transferable".

"There are many young players," he said. "[Marc-Andre] ter Stegen, [Clement] Lenglet, [Frenkie] de Jong, [Nelson] Semedo, [Ousmane] Dembele, [Antoine] Griezmann. They are players who we count on a lot and who have come to spend many years at Barca."

With a matter of weeks until the new Spanish season begins, Barcelona must act quickly, with Bartomeu's reputation just one of many at stake.

He will leave after next year's elections, and would want to depart on a high.

He vowed: "It will not be a transitional season. Every year we fight for all the titles. Barca's obligation as a benchmark club is to always go 100 per cent."

Lionel Messi is as important to Barcelona's future as he has been to their success over the past 15 years, says under-fire club president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

The Argentinian will be "the pillar" of the team under incoming head coach Ronald Koeman, Bartomeu claimed on Tuesday evening.

Speculation that captain Messi is unhappy and even considering his Barcelona future has flared since Friday's 8-2 humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich.

Bartomeu said he had not spoken directly to Messi but had been in contact with the 33-year-old's father.

Importantly, Bartomeu has had conversations with Koeman about the role Messi will have to play, and it appears there is no question of him being expendable.

"I have spoken with Koeman and the pillar of our project is Messi," Bartomeu said.

"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 most of all."

Barcelona not only endured European misery, but domestically they also finished empty-handed, with Real Madrid winning LaLiga after surging past Messi and co after three months of lockdown.

Speaking to Barca TV, Bartomeu said: "Messi is disappointed, like everyone else. We have to be optimistic. We had to mourn for a day or two, but now we rise up.

"We always think of a system that favours Messi's abilities. We have him 100 per cent.

"Within this era there are different cycles. Perhaps now another begins, but also within the Messi era."

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has confirmed Ronald Koeman will be appointed their new head coach just nine months after he rejected the role.

Former Barca defender Koeman arrived in the city on Monday to sign a contract as successor to Quique Setien, who was sacked after the 8-2 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich.

Koeman, who has been in charge of the Netherlands since 2018, was part of the hugely successful side under Johan Cruyff that came to be known as the 'Dream Team', scoring the winner against Sampdoria as Barca became champions of Europe for the first time in 1992.

Bartomeu hopes the 57-year-old can restore some lustre to a Barca dressing room reeling from a sorry end to a disappointing season.

"These days, everything comes out in the press," he said to Barca TV. "If nothing goes wrong, Koeman will be the coach we'll announce who will lead this team and these players forward, with a different project and with a coach who the fans know well, not only as a player but also as a coach.

"We're backing him because we know him really well in terms of how he is and how he thinks and how his teams play, but also because of his experience, for being in Johan Cruyff's 'Dream Team'. He knows Barca and the way to understand football."

Koeman admitted this year he turned down Barca's advances after they sacked Ernesto Valverde in January, citing his commitment to leading the Netherlands into Euro 2020.

However, with that tournament having been pushed back to 2021 and still uncertain to go ahead due to the coroanvirus pandemic, and Koeman having undergone heart surgery this year, his perspective on taking the job has changed.

Bartomeu has admitted they spoke with Koeman as early as last December, at which point he made it clear he did not want to leave his national team facing a race to find a replacement ahead of the Euros.

"In December, we spoke with different coaches to see who could come. At that time, we denied it because we couldn't explain things. I can say now," Bartomeu said.

"Koeman told us he had a responsibility to the Netherlands and could not leave them without a coach, but he was the first coach we contacted. Now, he's told us the Euros are very far away, we're in a pandemic and we don't know what will happen to competitions.

"Now, he's said he can do it. It's been a dream of his for a long time."

Ronald Koeman has arrived in Barcelona to finalise the terms of his appointment as the LaLiga club's new head coach.

The former defender is set to take over following the decision to sack Quique Setien in the wake of the 8-2 destruction by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-final.

Koeman confirmed to Fox Sports on Tuesday that discussions were underway with Barca. The Netherlands boss had a clause in his contract allowing him to leave for the job at Camp Nou, although a report in La Vanguardia suggests Barca will have to pay between €4million and €5m in compensation.

The 57-year-old was filmed leaving El Prat airport after he arrived by private jet, and he is now expected to sign his Barca contract in the coming hours.

According to AS, Barca CEO Oscar Grau and technical secretary Eric Abidal met in Amsterdam on Monday to begin finalising Koeman's deal. The Catalans announced earlier on Tuesday that Abidal has now left his role by mutual consent, as Barca proceed to make sweeping changes behind the scenes after a disappointing season.

Although he has resisted calls to step down, president Josep Maria Bartomeu has brought forward elections to March next year, having already overseen the departures of Setien and Abidal.

A number of first-team players are expected to be moved on before the start of the 2020-21 season, with club captain Lionel Messi reportedly eager to leave and experienced defender Gerard Pique having offered to depart for the good of the team.


Ronald Koeman accepts his imminent move to Barcelona has come at an awkward time for the Netherlands.

The former Barca defender is expected to be confirmed as head coach on Tuesday, a day after Quique Setien was sacked in the wake of the humiliating 8-2 Champions League quarter-final defeat to Bayern Munich.

Koeman turned down the job after Ernesto Valverde was dismissed in January as he was committed to taking Oranje through the Euro 2020 finals.

However, that tournament has been pushed back to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic and Koeman's personal circumstances have also shifted, the 57-year-old having had heart surgery in May after suffering chest pains.

The former Everton boss has therefore decided to accept the chance to return to Camp Nou, although he is sorry to have caused any problems for the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB).

"I can't say anything until it's been signed. It could well be done today," he told Fox Sports on Tuesday.

"I didn't expect it to go so quickly. It's always awkward in terms of timing.

"It's a lot to take in, but Barcelona are the only club for whom I had a release clause in my contract.

"It's a bit rough on the KNVB, but not unexpected."

Koeman spent six years with Barca as a player during the fabled 'Dream Team' era under Johan Cruyff.

He won 10 trophies, including four LaLiga titles and the European Cup of 1992, scoring the winner against Sampdoria at Wembley to secure Barca's first triumph in the competition.

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