Koeman focused on Everton but Barca lure exists

Everton manager Ronald Koeman wants to take the Toffees to the Champions League next season but says he still has two unfulfilled ambitions - to coach Holland and to coach Barcelona.
Everton manager Ronald Koeman wants to take the Toffees to the Champions League next season but says he still has two unfulfilled ambitions - to coach Holland and to coach Barcelona.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

LONDON • Ronald Koeman dreams of managing his former club Barcelona but is committed to Everton and wants to complete the challenge of leading them into the Champions League.

The former Barcelona defender, who spent six years at Camp Nou between 1989 and 1995, has been linked with a return to his old club since Luis Enrique announced his departure, which will take place at the end of the LaLiga season.

Koeman, in the first season of a three-year contract at Everton - having arrived from Southampton last June - has dismissed the Barcelona links and stressed he has a job to do at Goodison Park but has now admitted his ambitions stretch to a return to the Spanish giants.

"I feel flattered and I like that they (Barca) think about me. Everyone knows I am from Barca, they know my love for a club where I grew up as a player and as a person," he told the Catalan newspaper Sport. "In football, as in life, as in business, everything can be talked about and discussed.

"In my life as a professional coach I have two dreams to fulfil. One, coach my country, Holland. My other wish, my other dream, is to one day coach Barca. That's the truth.

"I now owe to Everton. We have a very powerful and exciting project and we will reinforce our best to try to reach the Champions League next season."

Everton are seventh, eight points behind fourth-placed Manchester City. They face Swansea tomorrow, Watford and Arsenal in their remaining fixtures and will return to European football next season with a top-seven finish and Europa League spot guaranteed.

But they look certain to miss out on a Champions League place this year.

"I don't see me being the next manager (of Barcelona)," Koeman reiterated during his press conference yesterday.

"I mentioned several times it's human ambition - for players, for managers. That doesn't change my position or contract with Everton. I'm really happy, I'm looking forward to next season."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 05, 2017, with the headline 'Koeman focused on Everton but Barca lure exists'. Print Edition | Subscribe