The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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The Rijkaard priorities
- New Barcelona coach wants team to play attractive football

Barcelona: New Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard plans to work hard on defence next season but will not lose sight of playing attractive football.

The 40-year-old Rijkaard replaced Serbian coach Radomir Antic last month and follows Johan Cruyff and Louis van Gaal to become Barcelona’s third Dutch coach in the last decade.

“We’ve got good players, but in recent years the team has conceded too many goals. We have to work hard on the defence, but without forgetting how to play attractive football,” he said.

Barcelona have signed Turkish international goalkeeper Rustu Recber, from Fenerbahce, and Mexican international defender Rafael Marquez from French first division side Monaco in the last month. But they have given Dutch striker Patrick Kluivert until July 17 to sign a new contract or leave.

Barcelona have told Kluivert they plan to cut his wages and the player is now free to activate a clause which would let him leave for a cut-price 1.8 million euros ($ 2 million ).

They were beaten by Liverpool for Leeds United’s Australian international Harry Kewell and appear unlikely to sign Paris St Germain’s Brazil World Cup winner Ronaldinho who is also being chased by Manchester United.

Barcelona released one of their Dutch players, veteran defender Frank De Boer, last month but plan to keep Philippe Cocu, Michael Reiziger and Marc Overmars, and possibly Kluivert.

“First, it’s very important to know who’s in the squad. I need to know which players I’ve got. We’ll have to wait and then decide. I want a winning team that plays attractive football. People want players who give 100 per cent but who also know how to play attractive football. It’s very important to win because people want good results”

He said it had been easy to accept Barcelona’s offer. “When a club like Barga offers you a job, it’s not very difficult to answer. FC Barcelona is one of the best teams in the world, with wonderful fans,” he said.

He also said he was unfazed by the demands after four years without a trophy. “Pressure in a club like this has to be taken as normal,” he said.

Rijkaard coached the Dutch national team from 1998 to 2000 and Sparta Rotterdam from 2001 to 2002. He won 73 caps as a stylish midfielder for Holland.

He played for Ajax, Sporting Lisbon, Spanish side Real Zaragoza and won three European Cups with AC Milan. He also won the European Cup winners’ Cup with Ajax, and the Champions’ League with them when he returned to The Netherlands in 1995.


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