Ronald Koeman staying at Barcelona this summer will pave the way for the club to sign Netherlands internationals Georginio Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay on free transfers ‘imminently’, with both players particular targets of the under-pressure coach.
Koeman’s position appeared at risk following the presidential election in March, with new Camp Nou chief Joan Laporta considering a coaching change. More pressure was added when Barça fell short in La Liga, finishing third with their lowest points tally in 13 years.
Koeman’s relationship with Laporta also looked to strained when the Dutchman recently had to deny the president’s public claim that he had been hospitalised with anxiety.
But the club have confirmed that Koeman will remain in charge following ‘very frank and straight’ talks with Laporta. He has also been joined by fellow Dutchman Jordi Cruyff, who was briefly a teammate of Koeman’s at Camp in the mid-1990s, in some kind of technical role.
With Koeman now definitely staying, Barcelona will complete the signings of Wijnaldum and Memphis, who are leaving Liverpool and Lyon respectively as free agents. Local broadcaster Esport3 writes that the arrival of both is now expected to be ‘imminent’.
Both players were coached by Koeman when he was in charge of the Dutch national team and have been in direct contact with the 47-year-old over their proposed moves to Barcelona.
90min understands that Koeman staying is the clinching factor in the negotiations as both want to play for him. He had been in touch with the pair in recent weeks, assuring them that he still expected to be in charge of the new season, which will now be the case.
The uncertainty surrounding Koeman until this week was the reason that neither Wijnaldum nor Memphis signed pre-contract agreements with Barça earlier, each refusing to confirm their respective futures one way or the other despite it being known they are on the free agent market.
Koeman gave his blessing to the recent captures of Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia, both of whom had expiring contracts at Manchester City, but the club wrapped up both free transfers before it was definitively known if he was staying.
The Wijnaldum and Memphis deals have always depended much more on Koeman himself.