After the summer shambles and behind the scenes chaos that unfolded at the Camp Nou, Ronald Koeman has been sacked by Barcelona after just 14 months in charge. His brief spell at Barca saw them win the Copa del Rey last year and finish third in La Liga, but without Lionel Messi and co, they have found life more difficult.
An El Clasico loss to Real Madrid at home was followed by a 1-0 loss to Rayo Vallecano that ultimately sealed the Dutchman’s fate. So now the hunt begins for the new manager, with the current favourite for the job a midfield magician that Barcelona are extremely familiar with.
The most likely man to take over. This job may come too soon for the Barcelona legend but it does have a certain amount of romanticism to it. Make no mistake about it, Xavi will be Barcelona manager one day, it is a role he has been touted for for almost a decade now - but does he want to take such a big risk at this moment of time?
He’s done a good job with Qatari side Al-Sadd, leading them to a domestic treble last summer and it is clear that his main influence is the Pep Guardiola side he was part of that dominated European football. Tika-taka take two is something that Barcelona fans would adore and he would have to rely on La Masia once more, and build a team around Ansu Fati, Gavi and Pedri - but perhaps for Xavi himself, it is worth letting somebody else take the reins for the next couple of years while he gains more experience.
Another midfielder that Europe loved with little managerial experience? Sure. Andrea Pirlo’s name has been bandied about for this job despite the fact that his spell at Juventus was a short one. In charge of the Old Lady, in which he spent four seasons as a player, he failed to win Juve’s tenth title in a row, losing out to Inter Milan and that would cost him his job.
The Champions League exit to Porto on away goals in the last 16 did not help, but he did win the Copa Italia against Atalanta before being replaced at the end of the season. Juve’s poor start to this season under Maurizio Sarri perhaps proves that Pirlo did a better job than he was given credit for, but it still feels like a huge risk for the Barca board to take at this moment in time.
The current Belgium boss has repeatedly flirted with the idea of becoming Barcelona boss over the last few years. After his name was linked again this week he told HLN: “There is absolutely nothing - and there has been no contact with Barcelona. I want to fulfill my contract (with Belgium), but many things may arise along the way”.
If he is offered this job, he definitely takes it, but can Barcelona afford to bring him and his backroom staff, that includes former player Thierry Henry to the club? On paper, he has the credentials. He manages the number one ranked international side in the world and has won 50 of his 64 matches in charge, but yet he still has not delivered the trophy that this golden generation could have won.
The current River Plate manager is also an option for Barcelona, who could go for the Argentinian. Although he has no experience in European football, his CV in South America is stacked. He has been in charge since 2014, won a huge haul of trophies including the Copa Libertadores in 2015 and 2018 and won plaudits for his flexibility and style of play.
He relies on youth players, has an intense pressing and passing style and most importantly for Barca, is a true winner. He loves to promote young players and relies on every player, including the goalkeeper to be comfortable with the ball at their feet under pressure. He could be the perfect fit to drag Barcelona forward.
Out of a job and reportedly interested in the Manchester United gig, Conte has recently won a major league in Europe and has a bucketload of experience. Conte could be a brilliant short-term option for the club but his style of play does not fit their footballing philosophy and he certainly wouldn’t provide the long-term rebuild that they need.
However, perhaps bringing in Conte for 18 months to two years would then provide the perfect bridge until Xavi is ready to take the job. Still feels unlikely.