football

Roberto Martinez speaks out on Barcelona links as Ronald Koeman walks out of press conference


The Dutch coach is under pressure after several bad results (Pictures: Getty Images)

Roberto Martinez insists speculation linking him with the Barcelona job are just rumours after Ronald Koeman refused to answer questions at a press conference on Wednesday.

The Catalan club have made a disappointing start to the new season after a wounding summer in which they failed to adequately strengthen their squad and lost Lionel Messi on a free transfer to PSG.

Barca were heavily beaten by Bayern Munich in the Champions League last week and then only mustered a 1-1 draw at home to Granada on Monday evening.

Barcelona gave an abject defeat in their draw with Granada (Picture: Getty)

Koeman has been criticised for his tactics and selections – he brought on centre-back Gerard Pique as an auxiliary forward against Granada – and Barca’s board held an emergency meeting to discuss the managerial situation after the game.

For now the Dutchman will still be in the dugout against Cadiz on Thursday, but at his pre-match press conference he made the rather bizarre decision to refuse to answer any questions, reading out a pre-prepared statement before walking off.

‘Hello everyone, the club is with me as the coach in a situation of rebuilding. The financial situation of the club is connected to the sporting activities and vice versa,’ he said.

‘This means that we as a team have to rebuild the football team without being able to make any big financial investments, this needs time.

‘The young talent today could end up being the next big world stars in just a few years. In order to reconstruct this team means that young players get opportunities, like Xavi and Andres Iniesta had in their day, but we must ask for patience.

‘What’s more, being in a high ranking in the league would be a success. This is a great footballing school for these talents. In the Champions League we can’t hope for miracles. The defeat to Bayern last week has to be focused from that perspective.

‘The process that we are in right now, the staff with the team, deserves unconditional support, in word and in actions.

‘I know the press recognise this process. It’s not the first time in Barcelona’s history that this has happened. We count on your support in this difficult time. The staff and the players are very happy with the great support from the fans like we had against Granada. Visca el Barca.’

Koeman appears to be losing patience with the lack of support he has received from Barcelona’s board, with the club reportedly exploring the possibility of hiring either Belgium boss Martinez or Xavi as his replacement.

Martinez is the leading candidate to replace Koeman at Barca (Picture: Getty)

The former Everton and Wigan boss is believed to be president Joan Laporte’s preferred candidate for the role, though Martinez himself insists there has been no contact about potentially taking over at Camp Nou.

‘Well as you can imagine there is nothing, nothing to comment for me,’ the Spaniard told Eurosport on Wednesday. ‘Obviously rumours, they are always there, it’s normal in football.

‘When you lose three games the rumours are that you are going to lose your job. When things are going well, you are doing good results, the rumours will always be there, but it’s nothing for me to comment on at this point.’


MORE : Erik ten Hag responds to Barcelona rumours after Pep Guardiola recommendation


MORE : Barcelona make decision over Ronald Koeman’s future as Joan Laporta considers two replacements

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