Koeman to stay on as Barcelona manager for next season
JAVIER SORIANO / AFP / Getty

MADRID (AP) — Barcelona's doubts about Ronald Koeman are gone.

After taking some time to analyze Koeman's performance last season, Barcelona announced on Thursday that it will keep the Dutch coach in charge for another year.

The decision was announced after a meeting of the club's board of directors.

"I'd like to announce that, after a period of reflection, we have decided to continue with Koeman," club president Joan Laporta said. "We are very satisfied with how everything went during this period. We had some very direct conversations. Koeman's behavior was impeccable. He showed that he is a great professional."

Koeman has another year left on his contract but Laporta had said the club was considering whether to keep him after a disappointing season in which Barcelona only won the Copa del Rey and squandered several chances to win the Spanish league.

"We needed this period to get to know each other, we needed to find solutions to whatever disagreements we might have had," Laporta said. "We reached the conclusion that this is what is best for Barcelona and for Koeman."

Koeman, whose extra-time goal from a free kick earned Barcelona its first European Cup in 1992, was signed by former Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu at the end of last season. The 58-year-old former defender was in charge for 54 matches, with 34 wins, 11 losses and nine draws. The team scored 122 goals and conceded 58 under his command.

Laporta said there had been no immediate talks about extending the coach's contract beyond next season because the focus of the negotiations was to decide whether he would stay.

He dismissed the notion that Koeman only stayed because the club is struggling financially and can't afford to end his contract ahead of time. He said he disagrees that Koeman became a weak figure within the club after not being immediately confirmed as the coach for next season.

"We could have ended the contract if we wanted to," Laporta said. "He has been reinforced. We are very satisfied to be able to continue this relationship. We see a coach who is very motivated and who already has a year of experience with the club. I think that he comes out of it reinforced. He is the coach we want."

Koeman arrived last season with the difficult task of retooling a team that had gone without a trophy for the first time in over a decade. He took over not long after the club's embarrassing 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

"I hope Barcelona will be a more competitive team, with a winning mentality and a style of game that is more attack-minded," Laporta said.

Koeman will have at least two new signings for next season — former Manchester City players Sergio Agüero and Eric Garcia — but it remains unclear if he will still be able to count on Lionel Messi, whose contract ends on June 30. Messi had his request to leave denied last season and is yet to say anything about his future.

Barcelona earlier had announced that Jordi Cruyff, son of former club great Johan Cruyff, will be back in a strategic role at the club. Jordi Cruyff was a player in Barcelona's youth teams and the first team from 1993-96. He had been coaching Chinese team Shenzhen since 2020. The clubs reached an agreement so he could leave the Chinese team before the end of his contract.

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Associated Press writer Joseph Wilson contributed to this report from Barcelona, Spain.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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Koeman to stay on as Barcelona manager for next season
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