Belfast Telegraph

Everton boss Ronald Koeman refuses to discuss Barcelona job

Everton boss Ronald Koeman refused to talk about speculation linking him with the forthcoming vacancy at Barcelona.

The former Barca player and assistant manager is used to rumours of a return to the Nou Camp and was steering well clear of the subject at his press conference on Friday.

The Dutchman said: "Every word from my side about Barcelona is too much."

One of the biggest jobs in world football is up for grabs this summer after current incumbent Luis Enrique announced this week that he will step down after three seasons in the role.

Another name to be linked with the job is Mauricio Pochettino, who Koeman will pit his wits against on Sunday when Everton travel to Tottenham.

The Argentinian, Koeman's predecessor at former club Southampton, has turned Spurs from European hopefuls into Premier League title contenders.

Koeman said: "I think he's managing a big club and I think he's happy. In the past I think they talked about (Pochettino going to) Man United.

"I was the manager after Pochettino was managing Southampton and I think he's doing a really good job at Tottenham."

Koeman also declined to elaborate on a potential summer move for Wayne Rooney after saying earlier this week that he would welcome a return to Goodison Park for the striker.

"I don't speak any more about Rooney," said Koeman. "He's a player of United, we will see what happens in the future."

Everton's nine-match unbeaten run in the league is likely to come under severe threat at White Hart Lane, with Spurs the closest challengers to Chelsea in the race for the title.

Pochettino's side go into the clash on the back of a 4-0 win over Stoke last weekend, with all four goals scored in the first half.

Stoke boss Mark Hughes described Spurs' attack as the most dangerous they have faced in the league, but Koeman is confident his side can do better.

He said: " That's an easy answer if you lose 4-0. I saw the game. We will defend differently than they did.

"In the first half Stoke had two big chances to score a goal but you need to stop the strengths of Tottenham. They have really good offensive football in the team - you need to stop (Christian) Eriksen, you need to stop (Dele) Alli.

"Maybe they will play again with three at the back, maybe four defenders, a lot of questions, but they will have those types of questions also about how Everton will play."

Koeman has no new injury worries and has been boosted by the return to training of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Muhamed Besic.

Calvert-Lewin could potentially come into contention for this weekend after two months out with an ankle injury but Besic needs more time having missed the whole season following knee surgery.

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