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Saturday 7 December 2019

Ronald Koeman: Disagreement with Southampton behind decision to join Everton

Ronald Koeman was named new Everton earlier this week
Ronald Koeman was named new Everton earlier this week

New Everton boss Ronald Koeman has revealed a disagreement with Southampton was also behind his decision to move north.

Everton appointed Koeman as Roberto Martinez's successor earlier this week after a agreeing a reported £5million compensation package with Southampton, where the Dutchman had been in charge for the past two seasons.

The Toffees made Koeman their number one target soon after Martinez's departure last month and Saints held talks with the 53-year-old over his future around the same time.

But Saints could not find a way forward and, after a protracted period of negotiations, Koeman made the move to Goodison Park.

The matter was not clarified as Koeman was asked about Southampton at his official unveiling as Everton manager, but it was apparent there had been a difference of opinion at St Mary's.

Asked how tough a decision it was, Koeman said: "I keep it short. The most important thing always is to look forward, not to look back - not in life, not in football.

"After the season I had a meeting with the board of the club and (executive director of football) Les Reed.

"The first option was to go into my last, the third year, of my contract. That was not possible. I said I can't do that and we will see what will happen in the last year of my contract. There was no way to sign a new contract and we did not agree.

"Through that whole story Everton were showing interest. Southampton gave me the permission to talk to Everton.

"I am the new Everton manager and that is all I would like to say about Southampton. Thanks to them, we hard two fantastic seasons. Thanks to the players, the staff, the fans but I am at Everton now."

Koeman says he was also attracted to the Merseysiders by their ambition and rich history.

The former Holland and Barcelona defender, speaking at a packed press conference at Everton's Finch Farm training complex, said: "Always the most important (thing) is if they show that ambition to grow, and everybody knows the history of Everton.

"It is a big history and it is nice to be part of that, to win, to play European Cup football, to win titles.

"Everybody at the club is ready to take the next step and I am one of them. From the start, when we had the discussions about Everton, (everyone) was lovely.

"Everyone is hungry from the beginning - the people in the club, the fans - to come back and put Everton in a place where they need to stay. We will do everything to take the next step."

Koeman may try to keep the likes of highly-rated trio Romelu Lukaku, John Stones and Ross Bakley at the club among his first tasks.

He said: "I have had that experience in my last two years, always a lot of interest in players.

"Like everybody, we like to keep all these key players, because you don't sell your best players. But that is about meetings I will have with these kind of players and then we will see what happens."

Koeman is expected to be given money to strengthen the squad by new majority investor Farhad Moshiri.

He said: "There is a budget of course, that is part of making the next step, but first of all you need to know what we have at home and what we have at the Academy.

"If we agree we need better players or some players in different positions, then we will work on that, but that is always after we know what we have in the Everton squad."

There was huge disquiet among supporters in the final months of the Martinez regime but chairman Bill Kenwright expects Koeman to win supporters over.

Kenwright said: "He is very much the choice of the board and I've seldom felt such unanimity in the fanbase for a signing. It is a big signing for us."

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