Barca players rally behind coach Rijkaard

February 16, 2007

MADRID, Feb 16 (Reuters) - Barcelona midfielder Xavi has urged Frank Rijkaard to stay on as coach after reports that the Dutchman will quit the Nou Camp at the end of the season.

'Me and the rest of the team want him to stay on,' Xavi was quoted as telling radio station RKB by daily Sport.

'He has got the dressing room under control and has the complete support of the team. He's the sort of coach you can rely on and the door to his office is always open.

'We've won lots of trophies with him and we can keep on winning them. He is the ideal coach and a great person too.'

Spanish media have reported that the in-fighting at Barcelona has helped convince Rijkaard that he should leave the club at the end of the season, with his former club AC Milan seen as a possible destination.

Barca striker Samuel Eto'o criticised Rijkaard earlier this week for saying that he had refused to come on as a late substitute during last weekend's 2-0 win over Racing Santander.

Rijkaard played down the player's comments and said the matter had been resolved in a face-to-face meeting.

Barcelona have won two league titles and the Champions League since Rijkaard took charge of the club in 2003.

Getafe's German coach Bernd Schuster, Sevilla coach Juande Ramos and Netherlands manager Marco van Basten have all been tipped as possible successors if Rijkaard does quit at the end of the season.