Cruijff's Barcelona return ruled out

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has rubbished reports that the club are set to replace Frank Rijkaard with former coach Johan Cruijff.

Cruijff led the Catalan giants to 11 trophies in an eight-year spell in charge between 1988 and 1996, a haul that included four La Liga titles, a European Cup Winners’ Cup and the 1992 European Cup.

But Laporta has poured cold water on rumours that the Dutchman, Barcelona’s most successful manager to date, could be set for a second stint at the helm as the replacement for compatriot Rijkaard.

“This idea has never been considered by the board of directors,” Laporta said.

“Frank Rijkaard has a contract until 2009 and, moreover, I would like him to continue until the end of my mandate (2010).

“This gives stability to the club. Rijkaard has been here five years, we have the maximum confidence in him and that will continue as long as he wants.

“I consider him a person who is very prepared as much on a personal level as on a professional and I don’t have any interest or intention to change a coach who, moreover, also gives the image of the club that we want with his seriousness and discretion. And personally I respect him a lot.”

Barcelona have struggled to keep pace with Real Madrid at the top of Primera Liga this season and sit nine points adrift of their arch-rivals after 21 matches.