La Liga 'lacking star player' after Messi's Barcelona exit
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Barcelona icon Xavi is the preferred option to replace Ronald Koeman as the club’s manager and has already been in talks with the Catalan giants, according to reports. Barcelona are on the lookout for a new head coach to rescue their season after the untimely dismissal of Koeman, who was relieved of his duties on Wednesday night.
The Dutchman had been under significant pressure since the beginning of the campaign but was unable to turn the club’s form around.
Barcelona currently sit ninth in La Liga, six points adrift of early leaders Real Madrid, after winning just four of their opening ten matches.
Koeman was sacked in the wake of back-to-back defeats against their El Clasico rivals and Rayo Vallecano, who sealed an impressive 1-0 win on Wednesday evening.
Radamel Falcao’s first-half strike proved to be the difference, with the Colombian forward’s goal ultimately putting the final nail in Koeman’s coffin.
Barcelona will now be tasked with finding a suitable replacement for the latter as they look to renew their La Liga title charge between now and the end of the season.
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Xavi, who spent the vast majority of his playing career with the club, has been linked with the vacancy and is said to be keen on returning to the Nou Camp in a managerial capacity.
He is considered as ‘the favourite’ to assume the role and has already been contacted by Barcelona over the possibility of taking charge, according to transfer expert Fabrizio Romano.
It is claimed that Xavi would jump at the chance to manage his former club if he is able to leave his current post as manager of Qatari outfit Al-Sadd.
Barcelona are said to have reached out to the 41-year-old ‘weeks ago’ in the belief that Koeman’s days were numbered, with negotiations over a deal to see Xavi cut ties with Al-Sadd believed to be ongoing.
However, there are a number of potential back-up options on Barcelona’s shortlist, with Belgium boss Roberto Martinez understood to be another name under consideration.
The other candidates are reportedly aware that Xavi is the club’s preferred choice, but it remains to be seen whether he will eventually take charge of the Spanish heavyweights over the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, Koeman is expected to say his goodbyes at Barcelona’s training ground on Thursday after being given the boot.
The 58-year-old averaged 1.96 points per game during his 14-month period at the helm but only managed to win five matches in all competitions since the beginning of the new campaign.
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Barcelona president Joan Laporta gave Koeman the dreaded public vote of confidence earlier this month before eventually pulling the trigger, with Wednesday’s defeat at the hands of Rayo Vallecano proving to be the final straw.
“We have every confidence in him, he’s our coach,” Laporta told RAC1 just weeks before Koeman was given his marching orders.
“He deserves some leeway as he believes in the team and hasn’t been able to call on the entire squad yet.
“He has Barca in his heart and is a Barcelona legend who chose to come during difficult times.”
Barcelona B manager Sergi Barjuan has been placed in temporary charge and is expected to be in the dugout for Saturday’s meeting with Alaves at the Nou Camp.
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