Koeman in talks to coach Barca, who sack Abidal as part of restructuring
(Reuters) – Ronald Koeman has said he is in talks to leave his role as Netherlands manager in order to succeed Quique Setien as coach of Barcelona, who continued a restructuring effort on Tuesday by sacking sporting director Eric Abidal.
Koeman, who is revered by Barca fans for delivering their first European Cup, will be expected to lead Barca’s rebuilding work after they were subjected to an 8-2 drubbing by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.
The Dutchman, who has coached the Netherlands since 2018, told reporters outside the national side’s headquarters on Tuesday that he wanted to coach Barca but had not yet finalised a deal.
“It is only definite when my signature is on the document. Until then I cannot say anything, even if I wanted to,” Koeman said.
Koeman is fondly remembered at Barca for the role he played in Johan Cruyff’s hugely successful side known as the ‘Dream Team’ and for scoring the only goal against Sampdoria in the 1992 European Cup final.
The defender later became the club’s assistant coach before embarking on an eventful career as a head coach, managing Dutch sides Ajax Amsterdam, PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord plus Premier League sides Southampton and Everton and La Liga’s Valencia.
Later in the day, Barca decided to terminate the contract of Abidal, another popular former player, which was met with surprise as the club had said a day earlier that a restructuring of the squad would be overseen by the Frenchman.
The dismissal of Abidal came a day after Setien was sacked after only seven months in charge.
Abidal, a double Champions League winner as a Barca player, had been in the role for over two years but has been let go after one of the club’s worst seasons in recent memory, in which they also surrendered the league title to Real Madrid.
He was also the target of criticism from Lionel Messi earlier this year, who accused his former team mate of blaming the squad for Ernesto Valverde getting sacked as coach last January.
Abidal joined Barca as a player in 2007 and became one of the club’s most popular players for enduring a battle with cancer, which forced him to undergo a liver transplant in 2012.
“The club would publicly like to thank Éric Abidal for his professionalism, commitment, dedication and the close and positive nature of his relationship with all aspects of the Barca family,” the club said in a statement.
(Reporting by Richard Martin, additional reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
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