Football

Ronald Koeman to make Donny van de Beek his top target

Dutch coach faces overhaul at Barca, where he was part of Cruyff's 'dream team'

Ronald Koeman could be making big changes at the Nou Camp if, as expected, he replaces Quique Setien, who was sacked on Monday, at Barcelona. Yesterday, the club also sacked sporting director Eric Abidal.

Koeman, 57, is expected to conclude negotiations on a three-year contract to take over at Barcelona, Dutch media reported yesterday.

He has a clause in his deal with the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) which allows him to break his contract if he receives an offer from Barcelona, where he was an assistant coach and a key player in Johan Cruyff's "dream team".

He told Fox Sports in Holland: "I didn't expect things to go so fast, and it is not the best timing. It took me by surprise as well but Barcelona are the only club for which I had a release clause in my contract.

"It's ugly for the Dutch FA (KNVB) but not unexpected."

He also told Dutch broadcaster NOS: "If it happens, it would be a dream come true."

Koeman is faced with a major rebuilding job after Barca finished second to Real Madrid in La Liga and were humbled 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Marcelo Bechler, who broke the news of Neymar's move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017, reported that Lionel Messi has told Barca that he wants to leave.

Spanish newspaper El Periodico de Catalunya reported that Koeman is open to selling Barcelona's second and third captains Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba. Luis Suarez, Samuel Umtiti, Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitic are also seen as surplus to requirements.

Busquets' potential departure could be a boon for Frenkie de Jong, who is a key component of Koeman's Holland team.

Earlier this season, he questioned Barca's use of de Jong, saying he was not being played ideally at the base of the midfield - which has been occupied by Busquets for over a decade.

According to French publication Le10sport, de Jong could be reunited with his former Ajax Amsterdam midfield partner Donny van de Beek, with the 23-year-old reportedly Koeman's No. 1 transfer target.

But Koeman's prospective return to Spain could prove to be a short one. Barcelona's presidential elections are set for March next year, with incumbent Josep Maria Bartomeu unable to stand for a third term.

The favourite to replace him, Victor Font, is committed to installing club legend Xavi Hernandez as coach. Xavi turned down Barca before they plumped for Setien and has said he would be keen on the job after Bartomeu's exit.

Football