Saturday, September 19, 2020

Barcelona appoint Koeman: Cruyff, Neeskens, Kluivert – new boss among pantheon of Dutch Barca greats

SoccerNews in Eredivisie 19 Aug 2020

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Ronald Koeman has returned to Barcelona as head coach following Quique Setien’s sacking.

The Dutchman leaves his role as boss of the Netherlands, having agreed a two-year deal at Camp Nou.

Setien’s sacking was confirmed after just seven months in charge, as he paid the price for Barca’s failure to win LaLiga and their 8-2 Champions League humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich.

Koeman becomes Barca’s fifth Dutch coach, following in the footsteps of Rinus Michels, Johan Cruyff, Louis van Gaal and Frank Rijkaard.

The former Netherlands boss also turned out for the Blaugrana as a player between 1989 and 1995, securing his place among the club’s greatest ever Dutchmen. Here, we take a look at those key figures in the club’s history.

Johan Cruyff

It is impossible to start this list in any other way than with the legendary Cruyff, a man so synonymous with Barcelona. Cruyff joined from Ajax – Koeman’s former club – winning LaLiga and the Copa del Rey during a five-year playing stint. The graceful forward would return to Camp Nou as head coach, winning four LaLiga titles, a Copa, a Cup Winners’ Cup and a European Cup with his “Total Football” style in a golden era for the club.

Johan Neeskens

A player whose grace and artistry made him so adored by fans, Johan Neeskens’ career trajectory took a very similar path to Cruyff’s. While trophies may not have arrived with such regularity as they did at Ajax – just one LaLiga and one Copa trophy in five years – Neeskens is considered one of the best Dutch midfielders of all time, reaching World Cup finals in 1974 and 1978.

Ronald Koeman

Renowned for his composure on the ball, the new boss was a class act as a player, capable of operating in defence or midfield. After leaving Ajax in 1986, Koeman arrived at Barca from PSV three years later to play for Cruyff and was a lynchpin of the team that accumulated so much silverware. He will now get the opportunity to add to that haul from the dugout at Camp Nou.

Patrick Kluivert

Described by former coach and compatriot Van Gaal as the “perfect striker”, Patrick Kluivert certainly lived up to such a billing at Camp Nou. The powerful striker enjoyed a prolific six-year spell at Barca. His only major honour during that time was the 1998-99 LaLiga title, but Kluivert remains a popular figure among the club’s fanbase and is now their academy director.

Frank de Boer

An uncompromising and classy defender, Frank de Boer arrived at Barcelona in January 1999 having previously won the Champions League as part of the legendary 1994-95 Ajax team that also included fellow Barca alumni Michael Reiziger, Edgar Davids, Marc Overmars, Winston Bogarde, Kluivert and twin brother Ronald and was coached by Van Gaal – the man who then brought him to Catalonia. He made 112 appearances for his country and featured just shy of 150 times in LaLiga for Barca, who he won a league title with. 

Frank Rijkaard

Rijkaard was the Blaugrana’s most recent Dutch coach until Koeman’s appointment. As a player, the defender starred alongside Koeman in Netherlands’ 1988 European Championship success, but he came to Barca having struggled in his early coaching roles. Rijkaard had an immediate impact upon his arrival in 2003, turning the team into title contenders and then winning LaLiga in 2004-05 and 2005-06. The second title triumph coincided with Champions League glory, too, just their second European Cup at the time.

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