At least two different reports are coming out of Spain claiming that Frank Rijkaard will opt out of his current contract with the club and quit at the end of the season. Both AS and ABC are reporting that the Dutchman has already decided to use a get-out clause in his contract that allows him to step away from a deal that runs through June of 2009. While neither journalist writes that Rijkaard's decision is based on this week's events involving Samuel Eto'o, they both state that the Cameroonian's outburst has helped the coach make up his mind.
Moises Llorens, of Spanish daily AS, reports that Rijkaard will cite personal problems as a pretext for getting out of his contract. Looking to protect an image that he's cultivated by winning two La Liga titles and one Champions League, the article states that the former Dutch international is ready to move on to take on a new challenge. Llorens writes that Rijkaard, citing sources close to Barça boss, feels that the team could use a fresh voice as well.
It seems that losing Henk Ten Cate has put an extra burden on Rijkaard this season. Ten Cate was an assistant at Barça before becoming the head coach at Ajax Amsterdam. He was Rijkaard's bad cop, the one that set players straight, keeping them in line. This is a job that Rijkaard has had to increasingly take on himself, and with Barça's problems on and off the pitch, it seems to be burning him out.
With these kind of stories surfacing before one of the most important stretches on the calendar, you can rest assured that this topic will dominate every press conference from here on out. Whether or not there is any truth to these reports, Rijkaard is going to have to deal with inquiries into his commitment to Barça. This could spell trouble for a club whose list of distractions seems to be growing by the day.
Rijkaard has already decided to leave Barcelona (in Spanish) [AS]
Rijkaard ready to leave Barcelona at the end of the season (in Spanish) [ABC]