BARCELONA

Barcelona agree to terminate Ramon Planes' contract

Ramon Planes stepped up to be the technical lead at Barcelona when Eric Abidal left, but now he is looking for a new challenge.

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Barcelona technical chief cleared for departure - destination Newcastle for Planes?

Barcelona have accelerated a shake-up at Camp Nou by allowing technical secretary Ramon Planes to leave the club.

Planes, who was recently linked with a switch to Newcastle United, heads out of Barcelona within a fortnight of Xavi arriving as head coach.

He had a contract running through to the end of this season but will depart with immediate effect, having requested to be freed from his deal.

Barcelona said in a statement: "FC Barcelona and Ramon Planes have reached an agreement to terminate the contract that bound both parties until 30 June 2022, at the request of the man who had until now been the club's technical secretary.

"The club wishes to publicly express its gratitude to Ramon Planes for his commitment, professionalism and contributions throughout this last two years, and wishes him the best of luck and every success in the future."

Talks with Newcastle

Spanish newspaper Marca last week claimed there had already been contact between Planes and Newcastle, who are newly wealthy after a takeover by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund but are also fighting a Premier League relegation battle.

Newcastle have appointed Eddie Howe as their new head coach but are seeking reinforcements to their staff elsewhere, and recruiting a man who has spent three and a half years at Barcelona would be seen as a coup, despite the LaLiga team having struggled in recent times.

Planes joined from Getafe in 2018 and was initially assistant technical secretary to Eric Abidal before taking on the lead role in August 2020.

Laporta shakes things up at Camp Nou

His exit continues the process of overhauling Barcelona's football staff since Joan Laporta was elected as president in March.

The team sit ninth in LaLiga after winning just four of their opening 12 games, managing 19 goals so far from an expected goals (xG) tally of 21.03. Expected goals totals are judged by quality of chances.

Since the 2010-11 season, the point from which Opta has such records available, Barcelona have always exceeded their xG across a LaLiga season. Last term, before Lionel Messi's exit, they scored 85 goals from an xG score of 73.96.

Xavi returns

Patience in former head coach Ronald Koeman ran out in October, paving the way for club legend Xavi to return to the club from Qatari club Al Sadd.

The departure of Planes will allow Xavi and Laporta to build their own leadership group.

Xavi is set for his first match as head coach when Barcelona host Espanyol in Saturday's derby.