Soccer-Koeman to stay as Barca coach next season

·2-min read
FC Barcelona's coach Ronald Koeman meeting with President Joan Laporta

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Ronald Koeman will remain as Barcelona coach next season after the club agreed to honour his contract, president Joan Laporta said on Thursday.

Koeman, who was appointed on a two-year deal last August by Laporta's predecessor Josep Maria Bartomeu, led Barca to victory in the Copa del Rey in his first season in charge.

But the Catalans suffered an embarrassing 5-2 aggregate defeat to Paris St Germain in the last 16 of the Champions League and finished a disappointing third in La Liga, prompting speculation the club were looking for a replacement.

Last month Laporta said "a cycle has come to an end" and refused to back the coach publicly, saying the club needed more time to analyse the season.

But he brought the uncertainty to an end after the club agreed to ratify the coach's future following a board meeting.

"After the period of reflection we asked for after last season, we've decided to allow Ronald Koeman to continue under the terms of his current contract," Laporta told a news conference.

"We're very satisfied with how the conversations have gone, it was important that we had this period to get to know each other and we have spoken very frankly with each other."

Laporta, who was elected Barca president for a second time in March, said Koeman was "motivated" for next season but also said he would expect more from the coach and his team.

"I want to see a more competitive team with more of a winning mentality and with a more attacking style of play," he added.

"Barca scored lots of goals last season, but I want to see a more offensive mindset, I want us to play with more intensity, and I expect we will have players that allow us to do that. All those factors will allow us to win and play in the way we like."

The Catalans have boosted their attack by signing Argentine striker Sergio Aguero on a free transfer after he left Manchester City.

They have also bolstered their defence by bringing Spain defender Eric Garcia back to his boyhood club after a spell with Manchester City and have recalled Brazilian right back Emerson from Real Betis.

(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Pritha Sarkar and David Holmes)

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