Barcelona have decided to continue with Ronald Koeman as manager and have appointed Jordi Cruyff as assistant sporting director as part of Joan Laporta’s push to restore the club to former heights.
Koeman’s future had been in doubt after a season in which Barcelona finished third in La Liga and went out of the Champions League in the last 16. His first campaign in charge also included winning the Copa del Rey but Laporta, elected as president for a second time in March, wanted talks and time to consider the way forward.
Koeman’s agents had been confident for some days of this outcome, although they hit out at Laporta in a hastily removed tweet last Friday after the president said “we are in a period of reflection with him to see what we do”. They wrote: “Imagine: I want to marry you, but I have doubts. Give me two weeks to find a better partner … If I can’t find the right person, we will get married anyway!”
Laporta said on Thursday: “After the period of reflection we asked for after last season, we’ve decided to allow Ronald Koeman to continue under the terms of his current contract. We’re very satisfied with how the conversations have gone; it was important that we had this period to get to know each other and we have spoken very frankly with each other.
“I want to highlight the impeccable behaviour of our coach in this time and we’ve tried to find some solutions to little differences we’ve had and we believe this is the best outcome for Barça, for us and for Ronald Koeman.”
The decision to persist with Koeman comes in a week of busy if low-budget transfer activity. Sergio Agüero, Eric García and the right-back Emerson Royal have been added to the squad and Georginio Wijnaldum is also signing. Talks are ongoing with Memphis Depay and the club are confident of signing the forward, whose deal at Lyon is about to expire.
Meanwhile contract negotiations continue with Lionel Messi. This week Laporta said discussions with Messi were “going well” and that “Leo wants to stay”.
Cruyff appointment strengthens the bond between the club and the Dutchman’s late father, Johan. Jordi Cruyff, who made 54 appearances for Barcelona, has worked as a sporting director and coach at several clubs since retiring as a player. He will leave his role as head coach of the Chinese Super League side Shenzhen on 1 August.
Johan Cruyff was one of Barcelona’s best players and a revolutionary coach who masterminded their first European Cup win in 1992. He died in 2016 and the club have built a statue of him outside the Camp Nou and named their youth team’s stadium after him.