Ronald Koeman has moved to reassure Everton fans he will be sticking around at the Toffees (terrible pun klaxon) for the foreseeable future.
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After speaking to Catalan outlet Sport, Koeman was quoted as saying that he was “his dream” to return to Barcelona and manage the Nou Camp club, as well as to manage the Dutch national team.
Asked about that interview ahead of Everton’s trip to Swansea City on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCsports.com) Koeman played down talk of him heading to Barca this summer as the Spanish giants will lose manager Luis Enrique’s who is stepping down.
“I mentioned several times that I think it is human ambition that means for players, that means for managers. That is not changing my contract or my ambitions with Everton,” Koeman said. “I am really happy to be in Everton. I am looking forward to next season. It is a big project and I would like to be a part of that project. The interview is coming out of 25 years ago we won the title at Wembley, so it is normal they will ask me questions about the Barcelona job. There is no chance I will leave Everton before the end of my contract.”
Koeman’s current deal at Everton runs until 2019 and by that time the Toffees may be close to having a new waterfront stadium in the City of Liverpool plus if owner Farhad Moshiri’s continues to invest heavily in the squad, Koeman may well lead Everton in the UEFA Champions League as all Evertonians dream.
Yet his dreams of returning to the place where he won a Champions League title (his free kick handed Barca a 1-0 win against Sampdoria in the final at Wembley in 1992) as a player to manage the club appear to be at the forefront of his mind.
Over the past few years Koeman has had great success in the Premier League first with Southampton (7th place in 2014-15 and 6th place in 2015-16) and now with Everton as the Toffees can easily finish the season in fifth place.
However before his move to England his nomadic coaching career took him to Holland, Portugal and Spain and in the latter two countries he failed to inspire big clubs in Benfica and Valencia. That, plus his ill-fated stint as an assistant at Barcelona from 1998-00 when Louis Van Gaal was in charge, means that perhaps not everyone at Barcelona is convinced that Koeman is the right man for one of the biggest jobs in the game.
With the Barcelona job becoming available this summer, it may be a case of the wrong place at the wrong time for Koeman. However, with Lionel Messi 29-year-old and the likes of Luis Suarez and Neymar around, can he really turn down the chance to manager Barca if they come calling?
Everton fans have every right to be a little worried.