Source: China State Council Information Office
FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta on Thursday confirmed that Ronald Koeman will remain as first-team coach for the 2021-2022 season and see out the second year of his contract with the club.
“I want to highlight the impeccable behavior of our coach. We have seen he is a great professional, we have resolved a few differences and we have decided that it is the best for Koeman and for Barca,” commented Laporta in a press conference.
Laporta added that Koeman was “very motivated and excited and I am certain we are going to have a very good season. We have spoken a bit about everything,” he said.
The decision comes after several weeks of speculation that Koeman would be sacked after Barca finished third in La Liga behind Atletico and Real Madrid after a disastrous last month to the season.
The return of Joan Laporta as club president in March looked to have weakened Koeman’s position given that former president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, appointed him, but conversations between Koeman and Laporta and the club’s sporting direction over the past fortnight appear to have brought to two sides to an understanding.
Although Koeman has been criticized for what some consider to be over-defensive tactics, the coach has argued that last season’s squad, which had been weakened by the departure of veteran players such as Arturo Vidal, Ivan Rakitic, Nelson Semedo and (above all) Luis Suarez – which robbed him of a specialist ‘number 9’, coupled with long-term injuries to players such as Gerard Pique, Sergi Roberto, Philippe Coutinho and teenage striker Ansu Fati severely limited his options.
Koeman has also earned credit for showing confidence in youngsters such as Pedri, Oscar Mingueza, Ronald Araujo and Ilaix Moriba, who have all broken through into the first-team squad.
Meanwhile, the French duo of Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann also had their best seasons at the club under Koeman’s coaching, although it is generally agreed both still have room for improvement.
Barca have already been hard at work building for next season with the arrival of striker Kun Aguero and central defender Eric Garcia on free transfers from Manchester City, while full-back Emerson Royal also returns after two years on loan at Betis.
The club announced that Jordi Cruyff would return in a “strategic” role in their backroom staff after Chinese club Shenzhen FC allowed the son of the iconic coach, Johan Cruyff, to leave his role as head coach.