Xavi Hernández to leave Barcelona: who could replace him as head coach?

Xavi Hernández to leave Barcelona: who could replace him as head coach?

With Xavi Hernández set to step down as Barcelona boss at the end of the season, the Blaugrana now need to have a replacement ready to go on 1 July – assuming that the current head coach sees out the rest of the campaign as he intends to.

For the time being, the Barça board plans to leave Xavi in his position until his stated departure date of 30 June, but if results continue to go against the LaLiga champions, that could change.

You can’t pass Barça job up, says Márquez

After Xavi announced his planned summer departure in the wake of Barcelona’s 5-3 league defeat by Villarreal yesterday, the first to put himself forward for the post was Rafa Márquez, the head coach of Barça’s ‘B’ team.

“The board will have time between now and the end of the season to consider their options,” the Mexican told reporters after Barça Atlètic’s 2-1 win over Fuenlabrada last night. “It’s in their hands, but you can’t say no to an opportunity like that…

Although Márquez has no experience as a head coach at the elite level, the former Barça player has a close relationship with the club’s sporting director, former Camp Nou team-mate Deco. The same goes for his rapport with Barça president Joan Laporta, with whom he has been spotted having dinner more than once in recent times.

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Rafa Márquez is currently at the helm of Barça Atlètic, Barcelona’s reserve team.Pascu MendezDIARIO AS

Motta, Conceição, Míchel…

However, there are more names on Laporta’s radar. Another ex-Barça player, Thiago Motta, has emerged as a strong contender in recent days. Motta also has an excellent relationship with Deco, having likewise played alongside the former Portugal star in Catalonia. Like Márquez, though, the Bologna boss is not an experienced coach.

Meanwhile, Porto head coach Sergio Conceição will be available this summer, as he has confirmed that he’s to leave the 30-time Portuguese champions at the end of June, bringing to a seven-season spell at the Estádio do Dragão to an end. The 49-year-old is likely to throw his hat into the ring.

Much closer to home, Míchel has shown himself to be a coach who’s faithful to a style of play resembling the brand of football that Barça have played in recent decades. The job he has done at Girona, who are mounting a surprise title challenge in LaLiga this season, has impressed Laporta’s board – but the 48-year-old has never previously taken charge of a major club.

Like Motta and Márquez, Míchel may represent too much of a gamble at a time when Barça need to make sure they’re appointing a safe pair of hands.

From the Kop to Catalonia?

And then there’s Jürgen Klopp, whom Laporta greatly admires but appears highly unlikely to lure to LaLiga. The German revealed this week that he’ll be leaving Liverpool at the end of the season, after nine years at Anfield.

Klopp has said that he intends to take a sabbatical after his departure from the Premier League club, but it would be no surprise if the Barça chief at least made an attempt to persuade the 56-year-old to change his plans.

Watch – Klopp explains Liverpool exit:

Xavi Hernández to leave Barcelona: who could replace him as head coach?

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