'I'm always linked with Barca' - Koeman plays down importance of speculation

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Ronald Koeman has dismissed speculation suggesting he is being lined up as Luis Enrique's successor at Barcelona, insisting the rumours are "not important".

The Dutchman enjoys a strong connection with the Catalan club having spent six years of his playing career at Camp Nou, before also becoming Louis van Gaal's assistant from 1998 until 2000.

Koeman's stock as a manager has risen since taking the reins at Southampton in 2014, guiding them to seventh and sixth-place finishes before departing for Everton in the close-season.

Now his links with Barca are seeing him reported as a potential replacement for Luis Enrique, should the Spaniard opt to depart the club at the end of the current season, though he brushed the rumours away in calm fashion.

"That is not important at the moment," he told reporters ahead of Saturday's FA Cup clash with Leicester City. "My name is always linked with Barcelona. I'm not in Barcelona, I'm in Everton.

"The reason I signed is because of the project we have here. We need time, but we want to grow on and off the pitch.

"That's the reason why I signed a contract with Everton. It's about the project."

Koeman also told supporters that Everton will only follow up Ademola Lookman's signing with further acquisitions if their first-choice targets are attainable.

Everton announced just before Koeman's pre-match news conference on Thursday that winger Lookman had completed a reported £10million switch from Charlton Athletic.

The deal comes as a necessary boost to Koeman's squad after Yannick Bolasie was ruled out for up to a year with a knee ligament injury and the Dutchman remains hopeful of more reinforcements during the January transfer window.

"If we don't get players in, we don't sign other players because that is not what I want," he added.

"We know the players that we want. It's up to the board to make the deal.

"If we don't get the positive goal from the board then I focus on my job, preparing the team for the next game."