Koeman plans to leave Barcelona

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Ronald Koeman will leave Barcelona at the end of the season and return home to the Netherlands. "I am not leaving to join another club," the international defender said. "I am simply returning home for personal reasons."

Koeman said he not had a row with Barcelona's coach, Johan Cruyff. "My decision to leave has nothing to do with Cruyff. It is thanks to him I came to Barcelona and won so many titles," Koeman said.

Cruyff was full of praise for his fellow Dutchman. "Everyone talks about Romario, Stoichkov, or Laudrup but Koeman has been the most important player at Barcelona," Cruyff said. "He always delivered. He never caused problems either inside or outside of the club."

Seven of the eight Ajax rebels were back in the Dutch squad named yesterday for the European Championship qualifier against Malta next Wednesday. They boycotted a friendly against Portugal last month in protest at fixture congestion. Only the defender Michael Reisiger was not reinstated.

The Group Five game is the first real test for the national coach, Guus Hiddink, since taking over in January from Dick Advocaat. In his two games to date, against Portugal and France - also a friendly - the Dutch have suffered home defeats. The Nottingham Forest forward Bryan Roy returns and the Roda JC Kerkrade midfielder Eric van der Luer holds his place after his debut against Portugal.

The Dutch, who have eight points from four games, are second in the group behind Norway.

Bordeaux's captain, William Prunier, has been suspended for six matches by the French federation in the latest of a series of sanctions against the struggling First Division side. The former international defender was one of three Bordeaux players sent off in a French Cup quarter-final against Strasbourg last week.

Prunier, who contested a decision by the referee to award Strasbourg a penalty, had already been given a two-match ban this season after being sent off against Monaco.

Team-mates Jean-Luc Dogon and goalkeeper Gaetan Huard were suspended for two matches and one match respectively. Midfielder Laurent Fournier was also given a one-match ban for receiving a third yellow card.

Bordeaux, pre-season favourites for the French title, lie ninth in the table.

Another French club, Nantes, had Jean-Michel Ferri banned for eight matches by the sport's European governing body, Uefa, for "extremely brutal" conduct in a Uefa Cup tie last month. The ban on Ferri, who was sent off against Bayer Leverkusen for elbowing an opponent, will apply to the Uefa Cup.

Ferri's team-mate, Reynald Pedros, was banned for three games because of unsportsmanlike behaviour after an argument with a Leverkusen defender.

Dutch squad, Sporting digest, page 47