Barcelona have made former player Ronald Koeman their new coach days after sacking Quique Setien in the fall-out from their 8-2 Champions League loss to Bayern Munich.
Koeman, 57, moves from his position as Netherlands coach on a two-year contract to 2022, Barcelona said Wednesday in confirming the widely expected appointment.
The former Dutch defender Koeman scored the winning goal when Barcelona won the European Cup for the first time in 1992 and faces a massive challenge in revitalising an ageing squad at the Camp Nou.
Koeman has previously coached a string of clubs in the Netherlands, including the big three of Ajax, Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven, Portuguese giants Benfica and Premier League sides Everton and Southampton.
Despite signing a two-year deal, Koeman’s second year will be dependent on who wins the elections at the club due to be held in March 2021.
But an expected rebuilding job, with Barcelona expected to try to move on several veteran players – though not Lionel Messi if they can help it – could take time.
“Everyone knows that Barcelona is my dream club,” Koeman was quoted by the Dutch federation KNVB in bidding his farewell to the Netherlands job. “It feels quite special for me to be able to be coach there.”
Koeman was one of three candidates. Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu favoured Mauricio Pochettino but the Argentine’s connection to city rivals Espanyol made him an unpopular choice.
Barcelona B-team coach Francisco Javier Garcia Pimienta was also considered but Koeman’s greater experience meant he was chosen.
He was first approached in January when Barcelona sacked Ernesto Valverde but with the Euro 2020 tournament on the horizon he turned down the opportunity.
Reports in Spain say Barcelona will pay the Dutch Football Association 5 million euros [5.9 million dollars] in compensation.
Koeman’s assistant is likely to be former Ajax assistant coach Alfred Schreuder. Former Barcelona striker Henrik Larsson could also form part of the coaching team.
Koeman is due to give his first press conference on Monday at 6pm (1600 GMT) on his return to the club where he played 1989-1995, winning four Spanish titles.