Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu, on Tuesday, confirmed that former Southampton manager Ronald Koeman set to be named as the new head coach following the departure of Quique Setien.
Setien was relieved of his duty following Barcelona's 8-2 thrashing at hands of Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League on Friday. Koeman, a former Barcelona player, is set to join his former club as a manager following a two-year tenure with the Netherlands international team.
"Koeman will be Barca's coach next season," Bartomeu told the side's television channel.
"If everything goes OK, Koeman will be the coach we announce and will guide this team and the players with a different project. It's someone the supporters know well, not just as a player but also as a coach."
A versatile defender known for his ruggedness, Koeman represented Barcelona between 1989 to 1995, winning four La Liga titles, one Copa Del Rey, one European Cup and one European Super Cup. It was, in fact, his goal in the 1992 European Cup final that guided Barcelona to their first European triumph.
As per the sources, Koeman and his representatives were in talks with Barcelona for a two-year deal on Monday, and the club has agreed on the contract, with the second year depending on the outcome of the presidential elections.
Koeman's name was thrown in the air after Barcelona sacked Ernesto Valverde in January 2020, but the Dutch looked committed to his job with the international team at least till the end of the Euros.
"Before the pandemic, in January, Koeman told us that he had a commitment with the Dutch team through the Euros," Bartomeu revealed.
Messi the 'cornerstone' but Coutinho can leave
The La Liga giants might be undergoing a major haul in the summer after Bartomeu also confirmed that "there are players who have completed a cycle" with the club. The club also parted ways with sporting director Eric Abidal on Tuesday after he struggled to handle the entire situation regarding Valverde. Abidal went on to blame the players for Valverde's departure that prompted club captain Lionel Messi to enter the fray.
Meanwhile, Bartomeu also spoke about the rumours regarding Lionel Messi's exit, saying that the Argentine is set to be the "cornerstone" of Barcelona under Koeman.
"Messi remains the best player in the world. He is number one and he is with us," said Bartomeu.
"Every project we do, we do it knowing that we have the best player in the world... And in the new project, Koeman can absolutely count on Messi.
"Messi wants to end his career at Barca, he has said it several times. I spoke with Koeman, who told me that Messi was the cornerstone of his project."
On-loan midfielder Philippe Coutinho, who scored a brace and provided an assist against his parent club for Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals, has failed to settle at Barcelona following his £142 million move from Liverpool in January 2018. And Bartomeu said that whether the Brazilian has a future depends solely on Koeman.
"The head coach will make the decision," said Bartomeu.
"If he wants him to continue, next year he will play with us."
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Gabriel Bouys