Ronald Koeman has been appointed Barcelona head coach on a two-year deal.
The 57-year-old Dutchman replaces Quique Setien, who was sacked following Barca’s humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Koeman, who spent six years as a player at Barcelona and was a member of Johan Cruyff’s legendary ‘Dream Team’, has taken on the job after he left his role as manager of the Netherlands, which he had held since 2018.
He won four La Liga titles and scored the winning goal in the 1992 European Cup final during his playing days at the Nou Camp, and was the preferred candidate of Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Koeman was unveiled by Barca on Wednesday evening and said: “Today is a 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.
“It won’t be easy. It’s not an easy moment to be at Barcelona, because I expect always the best. That’s what I like and that is how it has to be.”
Asked about how he would expect his Barca team to play, Koeman said: “This is a complicated moment because of COVID(-19) but I think football is something that should be enjoyed.
“That is the first thing I am going to say to the players. Without enjoying it, you’re not going to do as well as you can do.
“We need to work to bring us back to a moment where we can enjoy playing football.”
Koeman was also quick to stress that he wants Lionel Messi to remain at the club – in the wake of speculation that the Argentine might wish to leave in the wake of the thrashing by Bayern.
Koeman said: “I don’t know if I have to convince Messi (to stay). Of course he is the best player in the world and you want the best player in the world 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. If he is at the ability and the level he has always shown, I would be more than happy for him to stay.
“He’s still got a contract and he is still a Barcelona player. There are some older players in the team and we need to make some decisions but in Messi’s case I hope that he stays with us.”
Speaking on Tuesday – before Koeman’s appointment was confirmed – Bartomeu told Barcelona’s website: “We already know how he thinks and his philosophy. We bet on him. He was the first one we called in January.
“It’s a dream for him. As he was in Johan’s ‘Dream Team’, he knows Barca and how we understand football.”