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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 2, 2008

Rijkaard says he won't quit Barcelona

Barcelona boss Frank Rijkaard insists he has no intention of leaving the Nou Camp amid recent speculation his time at the club was coming to an end.

Rijkaard's comments come in the wake of claims yesterday from Jil van Eyle, a charity colleague of the former AC Milan and Ajax player, that the Dutchman would be leaving Catalan giants 'within a couple of weeks'.

Van Eyle, who is the founder of a charitable fundraising initiative called `Teaming' which works with Rijkaard, said in his blog that he needed another sponsor because his fellow Dutchman was leaving Barca.

However, in a statement on the Barca website tonight, Rijkaard clarified his relationship with Van Eyle, saying he had not had any contractual dealings with him in recent times and that he had not spoken to him of his professional future.

Rijkaard also re-iterated his desire to remain at Barca, saying: 'I've always said that I want to keep up my commitment to this club and I have no intention of leaving.

'We're in a difficult moment, during which the most important thing is for everyone to remain calm and support each other.'

Although Van Eyle subsequently apologised on his blog for what he said, his original comment caused a huge stir in the media, with Rijkaard's position already the the centre of attention following a disappointing season at Barca, which will see the club go without a trophy for the second successive campaign.

Spanish media reports yesterday suggested Rijkaard will be leaving as part of a large-scale overhaul at the Nou Camp this summer, with the Catalan giants opting for major changes to the coaching and playing staff.

Sports daily Marca believe at least eight players could be moved on at the end of the campaign, including Ronaldinho, Deco, Lilian Thuram, Gianluca Zambrotta and Eidur Gudjohnsen, while there are question marks against the likes of Thierry Henry, Rafael Marquez and Giovani dos Santos.

With Rijkaard also seemingly set for the exit door, reserve team coach Josep Guardiola is favourite to replace him.

Barca -- who have made no official comment on the future of Rijkaard -- are under pressure to make improvements following another disappointing term, which saw them lose to Manchester United in the Champions League semi-finals this week.

Earlier today, Barca goalkeeper Victor Valdes came out in support of his under-fire coach.

He told Spanish newspaper AS: 'He has made history here and for that reason I hope and I want him to stay for many more years to come.

'He is a superbly qualified person for a club like this and who always comes across positively.'

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