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Koeman asks for respect as Barca future in doubt

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Madrid, May 21 (IANS) FC Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman on Friday asked for “respect” for himself and his players in what could be his last pre-game press conference as first-team coach.

Koeman was speaking ahead of his side’s visit to Eibar on Saturday after a week in which the press has openly speculated that he will be sacked next week, with several players also expected to leave the club, reports Xinhua.

Earlier in the week, Barca president, Joan Laporta, also said that the club had reached the “end of a cycle” and that big changes were needed — something that hasn’t gone down well with the coach.

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“We have to respect the coach and the players more. In this club there are too many things that cannot come out,” said Koeman.

He added that he had “not spoken” with Laporta since they had lunch together a week ago. “We spoke at that meal and we agreed to speak after the season, so we will certainly speak after tomorrow’s game.

“I have a contract and I understand that there are doubts about the latest results, but I think things have to be discussed,” said Koeman.

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He insisted he wanted to “continue and see out,” his contract, which expires in June 2022.

“I am doing what I have to do as a coach, which is planning the next season,” he said.

Koeman also confirmed that Lionel Messi won’t play in Eibar after missing Friday’s training session and being allowed to start his holidays early.

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With Messi still to sign a new contract, his absence raises the possibility that last weekend’s 2-1 defeat to Celta Vigo could be his last appearance for the club.

–IANS

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