BarcelonaBarcelona’s president Juan Laporta announced this Thursday that Frank Rijkaard will leave Barcelona at the end of this season, and will be replaced by Josep Guardiola.

The decision to replace Rijkaard was made during a board meeting that lasted over four hours yesterday afternoon. Even thought Rijkaard is leaving the directors said that he did a great job and made history for the club.

Juan Laporta:

rijkaard Rijkaard did a great job here at Barcelona and we believe that Guardiola is the right person to lead Barcelona’s new project. He has knowledge, vision and the respect from all in the club.The president also assumed that he played a crucial part in this season’s failure, but when questioned about players the president kept in secret Barca’s plans for next season.

Rijkaard, 45, is a former Dutch international who made 73 appearances for Holland. He became manager of Barcelona in 2003 and won the La Liga in 2005 and 2006, adding the Champions League trophy to his CV in 2006.

However, Barcelona have not won any silverware since 2006 and are currently a dissapointing third in the table, despite a highly regarded squad including Messi, Henry, Deco and Eto’o.

Who is Josep Guardiola?

Born in Santander in January 1971. He spent the majority of his career at FC Barcelona where between 1990 and 2001 he made 379 appearances, playing as a defensive midfielder.

He was a key member of the Dream Team put together by Johan Cruyff in the early 1990s. Guardiola also played 48 times for Spain between 1992 and 2001 and was captain of the team that won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in 1992 hosted by Barcelona. When he left Barcelona in 2001 Guardiola went to Italy where he played for Brescia and As Roma.

More recently Guardiola has been working as the reserve team coach at Barca, but will officially take on his new post as of the 30th June 2008.

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