LIVERPOOL (AFP) – Dutchman Ronald Koeman became the new manager of English Premier League club Everton on Tuesday after his previous club Southampton reluctantly agreed to release him a year early from his contract.
The 53-year-old – who guided Southampton to their highest finish in the Premier League of sixth last term and a place in the Europa League – signed a three-year contract with Everton and replaces Roberto Martinez, who was sacked just before the end of the Premier League campaign.
Koeman – who had said earlier this year he would see out the last season of his three-year contract with the Saints – has been lured to Everton by the promise by the club’s major shareholder, Iranian billionaire Farhad Moshiri, of more than £100 million (S$200 million) for new signings.
Koeman, who has previously coached the big Dutch league trio of PSV, Feyenoord and Ajax, said it was a proud moment for him to take over the reins despite their disappointing Premier League campaign which saw them finish 11th.
“I am very excited to be Everton manager,” said Koeman, who was part of the outstanding Dutch side that won the Euro 1988 title.
“I believe in the club, in the team, in the fans and in our ability to achieve things in the future.
“Everton is a club with a great history and real ambition and it is a proud feeling for me to be part of what we want to go and do, together with the chairman (Bill Kenwright) and Farhad Moshiri.
“I am looking forward to meeting everyone at the club and to preparing for a big season in the Premier League.” Theatre impressario Kenwright said it was a huge moment for the club, having managed to wrest their top target away from their Premier League rivals.
“We are really pleased to have secured the man who was our No.1 target from the moment we set out to appoint a new manager,” said Kenwright.
“Ronald has such a strong track record in the game, instantly commanding respect for what he achieved as a player and for his qualities and accomplishments as a manager.
“The hopes and aspirations that we all have as Evertonians are with him, as is our total support at board, shareholder and fan level.”
Koeman, who it is reported will be paid £7 million a year, had appeared keen to remain in charge of Saints when he addressed the media prior to their final game of the season.
“Everybody knows I have one year left on my contract and we will sit together and analyse this season and we will talk about the future and that is what the news is today,” he said on May 13.
“What is good is that the club are happy with the work, together with the technical staff and the players, that we have done,” said Koeman.
“There is a very good understanding between the manager and the players and that is good because it is important to continue.”
His dramatic conversion to leaving Southampton drew a withering response from former Saints goalkeeper Artur Boruc, now at south coast rivals Bournemouth.
Boruc, who is presently on Euro 2016 duty with Poland, tweeted a Koeman quote from March which criticised a “lack of loyalty” in football.
Boruc added: “No words for this one.” The bookies favourite to replace Koeman, who will also take his brother and former Dutch international Erwin with him to Everton, is Bournemouth handler Eddie Howe.
However, Koeman’s former Dutch team-mate Ronald de Boer is also in the frame having left the Ajax post at the end of the season just finished when they missed out on the title.