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Sport

Koeman to quit Netherlands for Barcelona - Dutch media

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Euro 2020 Qualifier - Netherlands Press Conference - National Football Stadium at Windsor Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland, Britain - November 15, 2019. Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman during the press conference. Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman is expected to conclude negotiations on a three-year contract to manage Barcelona, Dutch media reported on Tuesday.

Koeman has a clause in his deal with the Dutch football association KNVB which allows him to break his contract if he receives an offer from Barcelona, the club he played for and began his coaching career with as assistant to Louis van Gaal.

The 57-year-old has made no secret of the fact Barcelona would be a dream job and Dutch media said Koeman felt it was “now or never” to accept an offer from the Catalan giants.

His decision was made easier by uncertainty over the future of international football amid the coronavirus pandemic, with Nations League matches next month under threat from an upsurge in new COVID-19 infections across Europe, plus the postponement of the European Championship to next year.

Quique Setien was fired as Barcelona coach on Monday after they were humbled 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Koeman will be faced with a major rebuilding job after Barca finished second in La Liga behind champions Real Madrid and were knocked out of the Copa del Rey at the quarter-final stage by Athletic Bilbao.

For the Dutch association, his impending departure is a major blow. Koeman has a contract up to the World Cup in Qatar in 2022 and led the team to qualification for the European Championship after they missed out on Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup.

Netherlands women’s national team coach Sarina Wiegman was named last week to replace Phil Neville as England coach from next year after signing a four-year deal.

Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Johannesburg; Editing by Ed Osmond

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