Transfer Rumors and News

Barcelona narrow down Xavi’s replacement shortlist to three names – report

Even though they are still hoping for a miracle end to the season that will change Xavi Hernández’s mind, Barcelona are preparing to hire a new manager to replace the legendary midfielder who appears set to leave the job of first team head coach at the end of the season, and the club has reportedly taken a big step towards choosing the new boss.

That’s according to Fernando Polo of Mundo Deportivo, who reports the club have in recent days ruled out a number of candidates and narrowed down their shortlist to three names: Paris Saint-Germain boss Luis Enrique, former Bayern Munich and Germany manager Hansi Flick, and Barça Atlètic coach Rafa Márquez.

That means that coaches like Julian Nagelsmann, Roberto De Zerbi and Thomas Tuchel are no longer part of president Joan Laporta and sporting director Deco’s plans, and that Márquez will only be appointed as a last resort if their three main options for the job (Xavi, Enrique, Flick) are unable to take it.

Luis Enrique is, according to the report, the favorite candidate for the job if Xavi leaves. He is seen as an experienced coach who has already reached great success as a Barça manager, winning a Treble in his very first season nine years ago. Lucho also has a track record of great football and is also willing to work with young players, a priority for the club due to their financial issues and the number of academy products who have broken into the first team under Xavi.

But Enrique has one year remaining on his deal with PSG, and all indications are that Lucho wants to continue at the club for at least one more season. But things can change quickly in football, and PSG will face Barça in the Champions League quarter-finals in the next few weeks. Another disappointing European exit for the Parisian club would certainly bring at least some instability for the coach, who could then consider a return to Camp Nou.

If there is just no way to convince Enrique to leave PSG, Barça would then turn to Hansi Flick. According to MD’s report Laporta is a big fan of Flick and considers him the best out of the German managers available in the market, excluding Jürgen Klopp due to his planned sabbatical. Flick, who won a very rare Sextuple with Bayern, is also represented by Pini Zahavi, a football agent who is very close to Laporta and would certainly make Flick’s arrival at Camp Nou a very smooth process.

Then there’s Rafa Márquez, who would only be chosen as a “break glass in case of emergency” hire. Márquez is in his second season as Barça Atlètic coach and is on his way to the Third Division playoffs with hopes of finally achieving promotion back to the second tier, and his daily work with promising young players certainly bodes well for his chances of taking the job if all else fails.

A fascinating summer awaits, and it all hinges on Xavi’s decision. If he does indeed leave Barça appear to already have their favorite candidates to replace him, and the final choice will certainly have a major impact on the club’s future.

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