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Ronald Koeman Takes Charge at FC Barcelona, Extends Olive Branch to Lionel Messi

After signing a two-year contract with FC Barcelona, new manager Ronald Koeman spoke about the challenges ahead. The Dutchman said he relishes the chance to coach Lionel Messi and hoped the best player in the world remains at Nou Camp for many more years to come.
New FC Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman (right)

Ronald Koeman (right) gets unveiled as the new FC Barcelona manager on August 19.

In his first interaction with the media as the head coach of FC Barcelona, Ronald Koeman said: “It is not a revolution, we must look for the best for the club and if that implies changes, we will make changes.” 

The Dutchman spoke at large about the rebuilding process at the club, his dream of coaching Barcelona, and the vision he has for the team. 

“We are clear that what we saw against Bayern is not the Barça that we want to see, we want a very different image,” he said, before talking about the immediate challenges at Nou Camp.

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"It's a happy day. Everyone knows that Barca was for me. It's my home. It's a challenge and it won't be easy, it will demand the best of me and I like that," Koeman said.

“From now on, we want to work and to fight to be on top of everything, we will work together with players who have everything to achieve it.”

Koeman, 57, was managing the Netherlands since 2018 and now replaces Quique Setien who was sacked after Barcelona lost 2-8 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinals last week.

“Like all culérs, I felt very sad because of the result. This can’t be accepted even against a good team like Bayern, that is not the image we want. It was a sad day and after a sad day we will have different days,” he said.

Koeman is the fifth Dutchman to become Barcelona coach after Marinus Michels, Johan Cruyff, Louis van Gaal and Frank Rijkaard. His journey -- from a player under Johan Cruyff to being the head coach -- was made possible by club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who has tremendous faith in the former defender. 

"It was written, one day, Ronald Koeman was to coach Barca. The time has come," said Bartomeu while the official announcement was on the evening of August 19.

Koeman added, "I've signed, I'm the coach of Barcelona and we're going to work starting from now. Changes need to be made. The image from the other day is not the one we want to return to, not me, nor the players, directors, supporters, anyone."

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Koeman, who was also the coach for Everton and Valencia, expressed hope that Lionel Messi would stay at the club. The 33-year-old Argentine superstar is entering the final season of his contract.

"He still has a year on his contract, he's part of Barca. I don't know if I need to convince him. He's the best player in the world. And you want to have the best in your team, not against you," said Koeman.

"As a manager, I love the idea of coaching Messi. He wins matches on his own. I will speak to him, but I hope he will stay here for several more years."

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