Barcelona fires Setien, Dutch press reports Koeman wants to coach squad

Barcelona, Aug 17 (efe-epa).- Barcelona announced on Monday that Quique Setien will not coach the Spanish soccer team next season, the decision coming after the board met for more than four hours to discuss the serious sports and institutional crisisSOCCER besetting the squad after the humiliating 8-2 drubbing by Bayern Munich in their Champions League quarterfinal match.

The ignominious defeat last Friday precipitated the decision to sack Setien, a move that appears to have been almost a foregone conclusion in the team’s organizational planning for the next campaign.

“The new coach will be announced in the coming days as part of a wide ranging restructuring of the first team,” Barca announced on Twitter, with Dutch national team coach Ronald Koeman emerging during the course of the emergency board meeting as the favorite to fill Setien’s shoes.

At the meeting, the club also discussed the team’s presidential elections next year and announced that the vote, originally scheduled for June will now be held on March 15.

“The Board understands that the immediate call for elections is not feasible considering the league will begin on the weekend of September 12 and due to the economic and social framework caused by the Covid-19 crisis,” the team said, referring to the calls by certain enraged supporters to hold the election immediately to replace team president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Nevertheless, whoever succeeds Setien will be under heavy pressure to get the team off to a super start, keeping in mind all the while that next year a new board could bring in their own coach, perhaps Xavi Hernandez, who is allied with Bartomeu’s rival for the team presidency, Victor Font.

Setien replaced Ernesto Valverde last January and signed a contract through June 30, 2021 with an optional third year included.

However, he has not managed to improve the performance of a team that had clearly been stagnating under Valverde, with Barca being eliminated from the Champions League title competition, along with the Copa del Rey, and moreover being unable to secure the La Liga title.

Meanwhile, Koeman has already communicated with the Catalan squad to express his interest in signing on as coach, the Dutch media reported Monday.

Koeman’s aim to head Barca surprised the top organization for Dutch soccer, The Netherlands’ top two newspapers – De Telegraaf and Algemeen Dagblad – reported.

Koeman’s current contract runs until 2022, but it includes a clause that stipulates that the federation would have to negotiate with him if the Catalan club is interested in inking a deal and pays in accord with a rescission clause.

As it stands, Koeman is looked on as something of a hero by Barca, having been a key element on Johan Cruyff’s squad and scoring the winning goal at the 1992 European Cup final.

His coaching career, however, has been somewhat mixed and – given the current crisis at Barca – his first task would presumably be to convince team captain Lionel Messi to stick with the squad.

Meanwhile, the prestigious Voetbal International magazine on Monday reported in its online edition that a Barcelona delegation is in The Netherlands to close a deal with Koeman, who is said to have required that Alfred Schreuder accompany him to his new home as his assistant.

The publication said that the whole situation is a dream on the verge of coming true for Koeman.

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