Ronald Koeman is the new manager of Barcelona.
This it the return home that Ronald Koeman always wanted and it arrives after Quique Setien was fired in the wake of their shocking 8-2 defeat in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal to Bayern Munich last week.
Koeman, 57, has signed a two-year contract to manage Barcelona and the former Everton and Southampton manager has jumped at the chance to coach the team he played for from 1989-1995 and scored the winner in the Champions League final for in 1992. Koeman previously worked as the assistant coach to the first team and also as the manager of Barcelona’s B team.
Here’s what Koeman told the Dutch national team about his appointment at Barcelona, where he will hold a press conference later on Wednesday.
“It was an honor to be the national coach of the Netherlands. For the past two and a half years I have done everything I can to achieve successes,” Koeman said. “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.”
As for the Oranje, they said that assistant coach Dwight Lodeweges “will act as interim national coach until the KNVB has appointed a successor to Ronald Koeman.”
Leaving a superb Dutch squad, who are among the favorites to win EURO 2021 next summer, must have been a little bit of a tough choice for Koeman. Yes, he loves Barcelona, but the chance to win something with his country was a very realistic one given Virgil van Dijk, Frenkie de Jong, Georgino Wijnaldum, Memphis Depay and many others are in such great form and there are so many superb young talents.
That said, Barcelona is Barcelona. Koeman has said time and time again that his dream job would be to take charge of his beloved Barca and he will now do that as under-fire Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu is placing his trust in Koeman to steady the ship of the club he knows so well.
His main focuses will be to build a new-look team around Lionel Messi (while keep the Argentine superstar happy), bring down the average age of the squad and to restore the Barcelona identity as someone who knows the club inside out. He is a figurehead for everything Barcelona stands for and he will have the immediate respect of the players. Maybe a big-name coach like this is what Messi and Co. need to snap out of their funk? They finished second in La Liga and reached the Champions League last eight once again, but things have just been drifting along for the Catalan giants.
Ronald Koeman knows he will be given a few years to do that and is loved by the Barcelona fans, so he should get plenty of leeway as he tries to rebuild this ageing team. A presidential election looms large at Barcelona in the spring, so things could change as Xavi is favored to be the next Barca boss by many, but until then Koeman will be tasked with doing a very similar job to the one he did with the Dutch national team: restore pride and develop young talent.