Barcelona: Xavi, Pirlo, Martinez on shortlist to replace Koeman
Club sources have confirmed no decision will be taken in haste over Ronald Koeman's future, but Xavi, Roberto Martínez and Andrea Pirlo are candidates.
Ronald Koeman’s future as manager of FC Barcelona is in considerable doubt after a second consecutive Champions League defeat at Benfica left the Liga giants bottom of Group E without a single goal scored and six conceded. Barça’s 3-0 victory over Levante on Ansu Fati’s return after a long-term injury lifted some of the gloom hanging over Camp Nou but another 3-0 defeat at the Estádio da Luz - which laid bare Barça’s tactical and individual deficiencies - on top of a home loss to Bayern Munich by the same scoreline has taken Joan Laporta’s patience to the limit.
Club sources revealed there would be no hasty decision made on Koeman’s position after Wednesday’s defeat in Lisbon but the Dutchman is on thin ice at Camp Nou having lost the backing of the board. Club captain Sergio Busquets was asked about the situation after the game and replied: "It's the easiest thing in the world of football [to sack the coach], but the responsibility also belongs to the players. We are in a critical situation.”
Xavi to the rescue?
Laporta, meanwhile, is happy to bide his time. According to Catalunya Ràdio, the two names that top the Barça president’s list are Al Sadd boss Xavi Hernández, whose arrival would instantly bring the fans and the club back together, and Belgium manager Roberto Martínez, who has proven at club and international level that he can weave tactical magic.
Another more surprising addition to Laporta’s shortlist is that of former Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo. Despite his far-from-stellar single season in charge of Juventus, which did though reap a Coppa Italia, Laporta is a fan of the former Italy midfielder who, unlike Xavi and Martínez, is immediately available and unattached.
Koeman faces a difficult end to the week when he travels to the Metropolitano on Saturday to face Diego Simeone’s Atlético, who are coming off the back of a last-gasp away win at AC Milan. Nothing less than a victory will do for the visiting coach with the Barça board needing few further reasons to bring an end to his employment.
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