Koeman shock: Barcelona coach to stay, says Laporta

In an icy press conference, Ronald Koeman suggests that his time in Barcelona is coming to an abrupt end. (0:48).
Joan Laporta, president of Barcelona, made a surprising move Saturday and declared that Ronald Koeman was safe in his job as Barcelona coach.

Koeman is feeling more pressure at Camp Nou. Barcelona went into the weekend in seventh place in LaLiga, while Barcelona suffered back-to-back defeats of 3-0 to start their Champions League campaign.

On Friday, the Barcelona coach gave a passionate news conference ahead of Sunday's clash against Atletico Madrid (LIVE at 2:20 p.m. ET on ESPN+ (U.S.). The coach accused the club of not treating him with respect and leaking stories about his future.

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Laporta, however, moved to dispel any doubts about the future of the coach and stated: "Ronald Koeman is going to continue as Barca coach. We feel that he deserves a lot of confidence for many reasons. He is a Barca fan and a reference point for supporters. He is a worthy supporter and he will continue.

"Koeman is a huge supporter of Barca and made the decision to join at a very difficult time for the club, both institutionally and sportically. I spoke with him and realized that he believes in the team, especially when he brings back the injured players. We hope to be back in winning ways and playing well again. He has a contract until the summer. He will do all he can.

"We all understand the emotions because we aren't getting results. But I ask supporters to have confidence in the coach. He deserves it. And to have faith that this team will compete when everyone is available.

"I have spoken with him and come to my own conclusions. The moment he took control of the club was a great experience. We spoke and it is not true that our relationship is cold. It's a honest and good relationship. He is a great person, and I believe he believes the same things as me. We all want to make this better.

"He is confident regardless of the outcome."

ESPN has previously heard from sources that Koeman was kept on because there were no credible alternatives.

ESPN reported that the club has intensified their search for a replacement after the Champions League defeat to Benfica by 3-0.

Sources claim that Marcelo Gallardo, former coach of Juventus, and Andrea Pirlo, River Plate manager, were added to a shortlist which also includes ex-Barca captain Xavi Hernandez as well as Roberto Martinez, Belgium boss.

Koeman won Copa del Rey as Barca coach in his first season and was third in LaLiga.