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Ronald Koeman talks Barcelona changes, Lionel Messi and Frenkie de Jong

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The Dutchman’s first words since taking over

FBL-ESP-LIGA-NED-BARCELONA Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

Ronald Koeman was unveiled as Barcelona’s new manager on Wednesday and spoke to the press about his decision to return to the Camp Nou.

The Dutchman has signed on until June 2022 and spoke about his pride at taking the role and also how he’s not expecting an easy ride given the problems at the club.

Koeman also spoke about how he wants his team to play, captain Lionel Messi, the veterans in the squad and Frenkie de Jong.

Here are the best bits:

Koeman on being Barcelona boss

Today’s the day to be really happy, very proud. Everyone knows what Barca means to me. This is my home and having the opportunity to be the coach of a great team such as Barcelona is a great challenge but it won’t be easy.

Koeman on Barcelona changes

I expect always the best, that’s what I like and that’s how it has to be. From now on we are going to work and we are going to train hard. Changes need to be made, the image that the team gave the other day is not the image we want to give, not me, not the president, not the fans, nobody. So it’s time to work hard to recover the prestige that Barca is the best club in the world. From now on on let’s get to work to get to where Barcelona need to be. We’re going to fight for it, we’re going to give it all we’ve got, this is our passion, this is our work.

Koeman on playing style

Firstly I’m Dutch and the Dutch like to have the ball and take control of the ball. My thoughts are always to have the ball, dominate the ball, try to play great football and the most important thing of course is to try and win matches. I’ve learnt from great coaches as a player. I’ve got experience and I think I’ve got the ability to bring Barca to this top level.

Today this is a complicated moment because of Covid but football is something that should be enjoyed. And that’s the first thing I’ll say to the players. We need to work to bring us back to the moment where we enjoy playing football, where we can be proud of the players.

Koeman on ins and outs

The important thing for us is to find the best thing for the club. In terms of players, we want to find the strongest line up possible. I know that there are players who have reached a certain age that you can have doubts about their abilities, not me necessarily, but we need to have a lot of respect for all the players. The technical plan with the club is to get the best for the club, the best for the line-up, the best for the team. But decisions needs to be made.

Koeman on Lionel Messi

I don’t know if I have to convince Messi [to stay]. I don’t know. Of course he’s the best in the world and the best players in the world you want in your team, you don’t want him playing against you. For me as a coach I would love to work with Messi because he wins matches. For now he still has a contract, he’s still a Barcelona player. I need to speak to him, he’s the captain. We need to work with him and speak to various players. In Messi’s case I hope he stays with us.

Koeman on Barca’s ageing squad

There are some players of a certain age who you might have doubts about their performance. But a player of 31 or 32 is not finished, it depends on their hunger and motivation to give their all for their club, this is what is important.

Koeman on his 2-year contract

The only thing I can do is get good results. I have a 2-year contract, I know elections are coming, but we’ll see. There’s nothing I can do to ensure my safety as a coach. I know there could be a new president, all I can do is do things well, hope people enjoy it and win matches.

Koeman on Frenkie de Jong

In his first years he’s played well, he’s played good matches, but we’ve seen he plays a different position than with me at the national team. For me as a coach what I want to do is find the best position where the player feels comfortable and where he can do the best from that position. That’s true for Frenkie and for everyone.

Koeman on youngsters

I have no doubt about playing young players as long as they deserve it. I think there are opportunities for the youngsters to add some playing time and to experiment with how the team can play with the youngsters. The biggest change I think we need to make to the team is to play with greater intensity.

Koeman on Barcelona revolution?

You have to be very happy wear the Barca shirt. You have to show that with commitment, professionalism, everything you have inside. If we do that the image will be totally different to what is was last week.

This is not about a revolution, but if changes are best for the club, there will be changes. But we will do it speaking with the players. What we saw v Bayern was not the Barca we want, we want a very different image.