Ronald Koeman has confirmed he rejected an approach from Barcelona to replace Ernesto Valverde back in January.
The former central defender explained that the Blaugrana approached him with a view to succeeding Valverde – a role which was eventually fulfilled by Quique Setien – as he has a commitment to the Netherlands national team.
“Yes, it’s true that Barca spoke to me but I said no because I’m with the national team and I have a commitment to stay in this role,” Koeman said, as cited by Diario Sport.
Koeman was then asked about the form and positioning of Frenkie de Jong, who is a vital player for his national side: “I think his performance have been good. He plays in a different position to the one he has before but they are technical decisions. He’s a very young player, he’s learning a lot, but I think with me in the national team he plays differently.”
According to a report in Catalan newspaper Mundo Deportivo from November, director of the Dutch FA Nico-Jan Hoogma revealed an option in Koeman’s contract to join the Blaugrana this summer.
Hoogma confirmed in an interview back in September that Koeman does have a clause in his contract that would allow him to leave for Barcelona.
He stated that whilst Koeman’s current deal with the Dutch national side runs until 2022, he has a clause which would allow him to join the La Liga champions after the European Championships this summer – should they make a move for him.
He also indicated that there would be a release clause in place for such a deal, although declined to comment on the details of it, but confirmed that it applies solely to Barcelona.
“I have two more years of contract with the national team and I don’t like to talk about Barça,” Koeman said in December, as cited by Marca.
“It’s uncomfortable for many reasons, now I have a job and it’s not fair to talk about this. If that opportunity comes then it comes and if it doesn’t come, it doesn’t come.
“There are more important things in life, but never say never.”
Koeman made 192 appearances as a Barcelona player, between 1989 and 1995, winning four La Liga titles and a European Cup in 1992.
Before returning as assistant to to Louis Van Gaal between 1998 and 2000, winning another league title in the process.