Football

Ronald Koeman cites Johan Cruyff as his inspiration

Newly appointed Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman said yesterday that he plans to take inspiration from former boss Johan Cruyff.

Koeman, who replaced the sacked Quique Setien last week, played under club and Holland legend Cruyff for six years at the Nou Camp as the Catalan side won four La Liga titles and the European Cup once.

"Cruyff was one of the coaches who taught me the most, especially during our time with the Dream Team. I didn't only learn to be a better player but a better coach, too," Koeman, 57, told Barca TV.

"We had the best combination. We played attacking football and won titles. That is always the philosophy we have pursued at Barca."

Despite the Dutchman's trophy-laden spell with the club, where he showed his set-piece ability, he said he was in the shadow of captain Lionel Messi, who is set to begin his 17th senior campaign with the side.

MEETING

The pair met last week amid media reports linking Messi with a departure.

"It is a pleasure to have a player like Messi in the team. We can't be compared for our free-kick taking because he has scored so many more than me," Koeman said.

"I was at Barca for only six seasons. But it is important to have someone who is good at free-kicks and corner-kicks in your team."

Koeman worked with 23-year-old Barca midfielder Frenkie de Jong in the Dutch national team before he was selected as Setien's successor.

"He is a very young player. He has been performing very well until now. It isn't easy for such a young player to come to Barca. He's a player for the FC Barcelona of the future," he said.

Later, Catalan radio station RAC1 claimed Koeman had told Uruguay forward Luis Suarez he is surplus to requirements. This comes just days after the 33-year-old said he hoped to stay at the club. - AFP

Football