Deco and Joan Laporta at odds over Xavi Hernandez replacement as Barcelona options reduced to four

Barcelona once again face a decision on who will replace Xavi Hernandez, if president Joan Laporta actually decides to go ahead with his intention to sack him. One of the things that worked in Xavi's favor before his switch was the lack of consensus on an alternative, a problem that is now emerging again.

According to Sport, there are five candidates on the table, with Hansi Flick, Barcelona coach Rafael Marquez, Roberto De Zerbe, Thomas Tuchel and Thiago Motta on the shortlist. Bologna coach Thiago Motta is widely expected to join Juventus, while Florian Plettenberg has confirmed that Tuchel has no intention of joining the Blaugrana.

De Zerbe, on the other hand, was initially ruled untenable due to his €12-15 million release clause at Brighton & Hove Albion, but after he left the Seagulls, that was no longer an obstacle.

On the other hand, MD says the race is realistic between Flick and Marquez. The former has the support of Laporta, and is represented by his close friend and agent Pini Zahavi. Marquez has the support of sporting director Deco, who feels his former team-mate has the tools to take over from Xavi – and has also worked with a number of young players who Barcelona are counting on next season.

The sporting committee, which also includes Joan Soler, Bojan Krkic, Alejandro Echevarria and Rafa Yuste, will also have their votes, and some at the club are said to have asked Laporta to think carefully about whether he wants to sack Xavi. The decision will not be made until next week, when Laporta must work out Xavi's future and, perhaps more importantly, his compensation package.

This is a factor that will favor Marquez if it comes to him, because he will be the cheapest option over Flick. His knowledge of the club, the language and the players are also positive factors in Marquez's appointment, but he remains unproven at the top level. Flick is almost the opposite, having won it all with Bayern Munich, but has little experience of success outside that period, but Zahavi's influence could also be significant.


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