Ronald Koeman will remain Barcelona’s coach next season, club president Joan Laporta said on Thursday.
Koeman’s future at the club was in doubt after a disappointing season in which the Catalan giants missed out on the La Liga title, were knocked out of the Champions League in the round of 16, and only won the Copa del Rey.
The former Netherlands boss still has a year left on his contract at the Nou Camp and Laporta confirmed in May they were “evaluating” the head coach, while Sky Sports News understood other options were also being assessed.
However, Laporta – who took over from Josep Maria Bartomeu as club president in March – announced the club would be sticking with Koeman after a meeting of the club’s board of directors on Thursday.
“After this period of reflection, vice-president Rafael Yuste and myself have agreed that we will continue with the current contract that Ronald Koeman has.
“We are very pleased to see that these talks have borne fruit in a unity of judgment.”
Barcelona have already moved to bring in new players in the transfer market and secured Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia on free transfers when their deals with Manchester City expire in July.
The club are also in talks to extend Lionel Messi’s current deal which is set to expire in the summer.
Eric Garcia will join Barcelona from Manchester City when his contract at the Etihad Stadium expires at the end of this month.
The 20-year-old will sign a contract until the end of the 2025/26 season and with a buy out clause set at 400m euros (£344m).
Garcia was officially unveiled on Tuesday in a behind closed doors presentation due to the ongoing coronavirus restrictions.
Garcia, who graduated from Barcelona’s La Masia academy before joining City in 2017, rejected the offer of a new contract at the Premier League champions last summer.
Barcelona had previously seen a bid of £15.4m (plus add-ons) rejected by City in October 2020 with the club wanting closer to £20m for the defender.
The defender joined the famous Barcelona academy in 2008, before leaving for the Premier League and making his Man City first-team debut aged 17 in a Carabao Cup game against Leicester City in December 2018.
The departure of Vincent Kompany and injury to Aymeric Laporte opened up more opportunities for the defender who in total made more than 30 appearances for Pep Guardiola’s side.
However, after expressing his desire to leave, Garcia made only 12 appearances in all competitions and started just three games this season as Guardiola’s side won a Premier League and Carabao Cup double.
The defender has represented Spain at U16, U17 and U21 level before being capped seven times at senior level. He made his debut against Ukraine last September and has been included in Luis Enrique’s Euro 2020 squad.
The move comes a day after Barcelona unveiled fellow Manchester City player Sergio Aguero at the Nou Camp, the record goalscorer joining on a deal until the end of the 2022/23 season.
The Spanish giants are also confident of securing the services of Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum on a free transfer as well and have also been linked with Lyon’s Memphis Depay.
Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona finished third in La Liga, seven points behind champions Atletico Madrid, but did win the Copa del Rey this season.
Sergio Aguero is joining Barcelona from Manchester City on a deal until the end of the 2022/23 season and was unveiled at the Nou Camp after signing his contract on Monday.
The forward was presented in a Barca kit and greeted the media on Monday evening after completing a medical in the afternoon prior to signing a two-year deal.
Aguero will move to Barcelona on a free transfer but the Catalan club have said Aguero’s buyout clause is set at €100m (£86m). He will officially become a Barcelona player on July 1 after his City contract expires.
Aguero’s departure from the Etihad was announced at the end of March after Pep Guardiola informed City’s record goalscorer of the club’s decision not to renew his deal.
The 32-year-old, who was signed from Atletico Madrid in 2011, has been restricted in his appearances this season due to injuries and illness.
Upon his arrival at the Nou Camp, he said: “We all know that Barcelona are the best club in the world so I think I made a great decision to be here and I hope to help the team.
“Of course it is a step forward in my career and hopefully I can help the team win things. I want to play and help this squad, and if the team does it well, I will be happy individually.
“I want to send a big hug to everyone, to all the supporters I will try to give my best and hopefully the fans will enjoy my skills. They enjoyed me in other shirts but now I am here.
“I have changed a little bit. When I arrived in Europe to Atletico Madrid at 18 years old, I learned a lot, then I played for Manchester City in the Premier League.
“Now I have changed my way of playing, but I have an idea of where I can play and I will try to help my team-mates with my experience.”
Aguero, one of the most influential players in City’s history, leaves the club after winning five Premier League titles, one FA Cup, and six League Cups.
Despite helping City reclaim the league title this season, Aguero bowed out after coming on as a substitute against Chelsea in the Champions League final, which his side lost 1-0 at the Estadio Do Dragao in Porto.
City thank ‘legend’ Aguero
City confirmed the move in their own statement and thanked Aguero for his “incredible contribution”.
“Sergio Aguero will join Barcelona when his Manchester City contract expires at the end of June,” City said.
“In March it was confirmed a statue of the City striker has been commissioned to stand alongside those currently in work to honour David Silva and Vincent Kompany. His legend will further be marked by the installation of a dedicated and permanent mosaic at the City Football Academy.
“Everyone at Manchester City would like to take this opportunity to thank Sergio for his incredible contribution to our success over the last decade and wish him well on the remainder of his career.”
The Argentina international scored 260 goals in 390 appearances in all competitions under Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini and Guardiola, and leaves as the fourth-highest goalscorer in Premier League history and as City’s all-time record scorer.
Guardiola had paid an emotional tribute to Aguero after the striker’s double on the final day of the Premier League season against Everton, saying: “We love him so much – he is a special person for all of us. We can not replace him.”
Garcia to follow Aguero?
Eric Garcia is expected to follow Aguero in joining Barcelona this summer. The defender is a product of the La Masia academy and Guardiola brought him to the Etihad in 2017, but he made just six top-flight appearances this season.
Barcelona won the Copa del Rey but missed out on the La Liga title this season, finishing seven points behind league winners Atletico.
Aguero will link up with long-time Argentina team-mate Lionel Messi at the Nou Camp. Joan Laporta, the club’s president has said he is “moderately optimistic” over the prospect of Messi signing a new contract, while the Spanish club are also confident of securing the services of Georginio Wijnaldum, who appears set to leave Liverpool.
Meanwhile, Guardiola says he is planning on staying at City for the long term because the club “gives the manager everything he needs”, after the Spaniard guided the club to a third Premier League triumph under his tenure.
‘Barca confident of Aguero impact’
Analysis from Spanish football expert Alvaro Montero…
“It is not the same Aguero which shone for Manchester City a few seasons ago or even the one which played for Atletico Madrid here in La Liga.
“Barcelona have learned an important lesson. Last year they thought that Luis Suarez was not fit enough and was not a good striker for an important club.
“With Aguero 33-years-old next Wednesday, the feeling is that maybe he is not the person he was five or six years ago but that he can have an impact in two years at the club.
“They believe that the Argentinian is better than many strikers who have arrived over the last few seasons.
“No one wants to pay such a huge wage to Lionel Messi and it seems that the arrival of Aguero, one of his best friends in the world of football and close friends for the last 16 or 17 years, could be a huge step to make Messi stay at the club.”
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has refuted suggestions the ongoing power struggle with the three remaining Super League clubs could paralyse European football and instead claims Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid are doing that to themselves.
Nine of the 12 clubs who signed up to the European Super League withdrew following huge external pressure, including six Premier League teams.
But Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid have so far refused to do so and last week they released a joint statement accusing UEFA of a ‘flagrant breach of the decision of the courts of justice’ and stating ‘we either reform football or we will have to watch its inevitable downfall’.
“They paralysed themselves with the approach they took,” Ceferin told Sky Italy.
“It’s strange to read press releases that the three clubs out of thousands of clubs think their idea will save football and nobody else likes it.”
Ceferin was unable to give an update on disciplinary proceedings against the three clubs and what sanctions they could be hit with if they persist with their ESL plans.
“Our disciplinary committee is independent so the moment they start to work on a case, I don’t have a reach or information there,” said Ceferin. “I don’t know when, if or how the sanctions would be.
“For me what is strange is that you publish you are still part of the Super League and then you send a letter applying to play in the Champions League. So you are in Super League but play Champions League. It’s quite hard to understand what they mean.
“They should call us, send us a letter, ask for a meeting. They just sent some press releases saying they want to have a dialogue. It’s quite a strange approach.”
He continued: “It’s really hard to understand what they want. If they say Super League exists – and nobody prevents them from playing Super League, the three of you can play your Super League. But they say they want to play Champions League as well at the same time.
“We are not afraid of those things. If the courts decide one way or another we have to be honest and work for football, which those clubs are not.”
Ceferin said the first 48 hours were difficult after the Super League proposals were announced but was blown away by the continent’s unified approach.
“We didn’t know if it is coming,” he said. “When it came it was tough for two days but all of the European community stood together, not just the football community but everyone.”
EU Court of Justice confirms ESL claim
Meanwhile, the European Union Court of Justice (EUCJ) has confirmed it has received a claim from Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus that FIFA and UEFA are in violation of EU competition laws.
The trio maintain FIFA and UEFA are breaking EU rules by operating a cartel and abusing their dominant position with the claim based on EU Antitrust Policy.
EU Antitrust policy is developed from Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
Article 101 prohibits anti-competitive agreements between two or more independent market operators while Article 102 prohibits abusive behaviour by companies holding a dominant position on any given market.
In response, UEFA says it is confident in its position and will defend itself robustly.
A statement read: “UEFA takes note of the announcement by the European Court of Justice of the referral from a Madrid court on the so-called European Super League, notwithstanding the withdrawal of nine of its founding member clubs. UEFA is confident in its position and will defend it robustly.”
Scrapping away goals ‘might be a good solution’
Ceferin believes scrapping the away goals rule in the Champions and Europa Leagues will lead to more “interesting” matches.
The rule has been in place since 1965 but moved a step closer to being scrapped after UEFA’s club competitions committee decided to abolish it.
The final decision will be taken to UEFA’s executive committee for approval.
“It might be a good solution because, all in all, football fans watch football to see goals and attractive matches,” said Ceferin.
“If for example, you draw 2-2 away, you are almost safe to qualify by this away goal rule.
“In the case that this would be changed, and it’s not sure yet that it will be, I think we might have more interesting matches.
“Maybe more extra-times as well but that’s also fine.”
Ceferin ‘optimistic’ about Euro 2020
Ceferin admits Euro 2020 has been a logistical challenge during the pandemic but remains confident it will go ahead as planned.
The tournament begins in Rome on June 11 when Italy face Turkey, with Wembley due to host the semi-finals and final in July.
“It’s very hard to organise anyway and now in Covid times it’s double,” said Ceferin.
“I can’t imagine having a more difficult year in my life than this year.
“I hope everything goes fine but this pandemic situation is changing every day. But more and more people are vaccinated, the health protocol is strict so we are still optimistic things will go well.”
Ronald Koeman’s representatives have hit out at Barcelona and president Joan Laporta’s apparent unwillingness to commit to the Dutchman, in a riddled social media post.
Rob Jansen, via his own Twitter account and that of the Netherlands branch of agency group Wasserman, criticised their approach following a meeting over the former Everton and Southampton boss’s future.
“Imagine: I want to marry you, but I have doubts,” he posted. “Give me two weeks to find a better partner. If I can’t find the right person, we will get married anyway!”
Koeman still has a year left on his contract at the Nou Camp and Laporta confirmed publicly they are “evaluating” the head coach, while Sky Sports News understands they are also assessing other options.
The ex-Holland boss was recently admitted to hospital following a panic attack and his representatives also move to allay fears over his health after Laporta commented in a press conference on Friday.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>Imagine: I want to marry you, but I have doubts. <br><br>Give me two weeks to find a better partner…<br><br>If I can’t find the right person, we will get married anyway!</p>— Rob Jansen (@RobJansenWass) <a href=”https://twitter.com/RobJansenWass/status/1398293876155244546?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>May 28, 2021</a></blockquote>
The company said: “The words of FC Barcelona’s president Joan Laporta during a press conference today about Ronald Koeman’s anxiety attack are overdone.
“Ronald has been to the hospital for blood pressure checks, a routine check for people with his medical history.
“We regret the way it got into the media. Ronald is fine, there is nothing to worry about.”
Discussing a range of issues ongoing at Barca, including Messi’s new contract, their financial problems, and signing new players, Laporta said: “We arrived halfway through the season and said we would give our evaluation of the coach at the end of the season.
“We always worked with maximum respect towards Ronald Koeman, a player that won us that mythical European Cup at Wembley.
“He still has a contract in place and we said we do not believe in transitional seasons. We have spoken to him and will continue to talk to him to make further decisions.”
Sky Sports News has reached out to Barcelona for comment.
Laporta ‘moderately optimistic’ of new Messi contract
Barcelona president Joan Laporta is “moderately optimistic” Lionel Messi will sign a new contract with the club.
Messi’s current deal is due to expire at the end of next month, with the 33-year-old having remained at Barcelona for the 2020-21 season despite seeking a summer exit last year.
Former president Josep Maria Bartomeu told Messi he would only be allowed to leave if his €700m release clause was paid in full following a dispute over a clause in his contract.
Messi, who had been linked with Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City, said back in December he would not make a decision about his future until the end of the season, and now with just weeks left on his contract, Laporta is hopeful of convincing the six-time Ballon d’Or winner to stay.