Ronald Koeman insists his work has been paramount in saving Barcelona, but his relationship with club president Joan Laporta is yet to fully recover.
The Catalan club underwhelmed in Koeman’s first term last campaign, finishing third – seven points behind champions Atletico Madrid – in LaLiga and exiting at the Champions League’s last-16 stage to Paris Saint-Germain.
Barca’s problems were further compounded in August, amid financial difficulties and complications with LaLiga, when Blaugrana legend Lionel Messi departed on a free and several players had to take pay cuts to allow registration of new signings.
However, despite Koeman’s seemingly fragile relationship with Laporta, who went on an unsuccessful managerial replacement search in June, the Dutchman is enjoying his time at Camp Nou as he looks ahead to a potential new contract.
“It has improved a bit [the relationship with Laporta],” Koeman told NOS. “But when you let things blow a bit as a club and are not clear about the future of a coach, then you get speculation.
“And if you are the one who is the coach, then that is not a nice case.
“Last week there was also something in the media, which I think was not right. That again suggests that the trainer does not have full power.
“He said a little too much. That can be done in private. I like it when a president is committed and also asks questions. Only that it should not be in the press, that was the problem.
“Laporta was not wise on two occasions, let me put it this way. We are also in contact about a new contract now. Thanks to me, this club has a future.
“I see a lot of potential. I am open to stay here, I am enjoying myself here.”
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) June 3, 2021
Koeman’s new-look team, in the absence of Messi, have picked up seven points from their first three matches, with Barca utilising the most under-21 players in their Spanish top-flight matchday squads so far (eight).
Indeed, the former Netherlands manager revealed academy products will always get chances under his stewardship as he warned Barca’s financial struggles will have a knock-on impact on their competitiveness in Europe.
“It’s not just Pedri,” Koeman continued. “There are still four or five players aged 18 or 19 who will be fantastic players for this club in three or four years.
“Accepting things and not being able to do things that maybe they [the club] should. That’s the moment. Focus on the youth and give them a chance.
“Barcelona is in debt and therefore has to deal with fair play in Spain. The best players cannot come to Barcelona because they have higher contracts and cost a lot of money, which the club does not have.
“Sportingly, this club will always be good. The question is, can you get back to the level where you will really win Champions Leagues and be the best in Spain for years in a row? That is not the case at the moment. Let’s hope that it will come again.”