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Ronald Koeman 'to rebuild Barcelona around Antoine Griezmann'

Koeman 'to rebuild Barcelona around Antoine Griezmann'
© Reuters
New Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman reportedly plans to build a new-look team around Antoine Griezmann following Lionel Messi's request to leave the club.

New Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman is reportedly planning to build his team around Antoine Griezmann.

The Dutch boss, who replaced Quique Setien in charge at Camp Nou earlier this month, has suffered a turbulent start to his reign, most notably with captain and talisman Lionel Messi handing in a transfer request on Tuesday.

Koeman had initially planned to make Messi the central figure of his new-look Barcelona, having already decided to offload a number of other ageing high-profile players such as Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic and Arturo Vidal.

However, L'Equipe reports that the former Everton, Southampton and Netherlands boss has told Griezmann that he will now focus the rebuild around him.

Griezmann joined Barcelona from Atletico Madrid in a €120m (£108m) deal last summer but endured an underwhelming debut campaign with the Catalan outfit as they surrendered their La Liga title and were knocked out early in both the Champions League and Copa del Rey.

The 29-year-old completed the full 90 minutes just 19 times across all competitions throughout the season, scoring 15 goals and creating four more in 48 appearances.

Koeman plans to use Griezmann in a similar free role to the one he excelled in with Atletico Madrid, though, and has even promised the France international his favoured number seven shirt - previously occupied by Philippe Coutinho.


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