Barcelona: Setién to go, Xavi and Pochettino top club's shortlist
Quique Setién is set to be sacked in the wake of Barcelona's 8-2 Champions League mauling by Bayern, with Xavi and Mauricio Pochettino the chief candidates to replace him.
Barring a hugely surprising turn of events, Quique Setién won’t be Barcelona’s head coach next season. The Calatan club are expected to part company with the 61-year-old in the coming hours.
Setién fails to bring fresh "impetus" to Barcelona
Appointed to bring new “impetus” to the squad, according to Barça president Josep Maria Bartomeu, Setién has come up short in the Copa del Rey, after being knocked out by Athletic Bilbao; in LaLiga, losing out to Real Madrid in the title race and suffering an embarrassing defeat to Osasuna in his side’s final home game of the season; and in the Champions League, failing to get past the quarter-final stage after a humiliating thrashing by Bayern Munich on Friday.
Sporting director Abidal to follow Setién out of club?
Whether Setién will be followed out of the Camp Nou exit door by Éric Abidal, the sporting director responsible for sacking Ernesto Valverde and bringing in the Cantabrian in January, remains unknown.
Xavi again top of Barcelona's shortlist
As things stand, there look to be two chief candidates to replace Setién, with Xavi Hernández again top of Barcelona’s wish list. Currently in charge of Qatari side Al-Sadd, Xavi has a clause in his contract that allows him to move to Barça and, although his relationship with the Blaugrana board isn’t the best, Bartomeu is set to go after the club legend as he did in January.
With presidential elections due within a year, it remains to be seen whether Xavi can be persuaded to turn his back on his support for Victor Font - a candidate who has vowed to bring in the former midfielder as coach - and return to the club now. Seven months ago, Bartomeu was unable to meet the demands Xavi made, both footballing and financial, in talks over the job. Given the current situation, however, the Camp Nou chief can be expected to be rather more amenable.
Pochettino lined up as alternative to Xavi
Plan B is Mauricio Pochettino. The Argentine has an excellent relationship with club director Ramon Planes, and the pair have been seen together meeting under informal circumstances several times in recent weeks. Pochettino’s presence on Barça’s shortlist isn’t new: Bartomeu also considered the former Tottenham Hotspur boss after Xavi turned the club down in January.
The fans’ reluctance to embrace Pochettino, whose past as a player and coach at city rivals Espanyol has led him to maintain something of a combative attitude towards Barça, dissuaded the president from going for him. Now, however, Pochettino is in Barcelona and awaiting the green light from the club. The 48-year-old would need fewer conditions to be met than Xavi before accepting the job.
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