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  28 Oct 2021, 09:44

Xavi leads candidates to replace sacked Koeman at Barcelona

   MADRID, Oct 28, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Barcelona are looking for a new coach

after they sacked Ronald Koeman with the Spanish giants ninth in La Liga and
third in their Champions League group.

   A dire financial situation has hung over the club in recent months,
causing Lionel Messi to join Paris Saint-Germain in August. Barcelona are
1.35 billion euros in debt.

   Any successor would have to work within those economic constraints, bring
back a more attractive style of football and significantly improve results.

   Most importantly, Barcelona president Joan Laporta will want to see
greater assurances that the team will finish in La Liga's top four. Failing
to qualify for next season's Champions League would only deepen the club's
financial crisis.

   AFP Sport looks at three leading candidates to become Koeman's successor:

   Xavi Hernandez

   Xavi is currently in charge of Qatari side Al Sadd and would be a hugely
popular choice with the Barca fans, given his glittering career at the Camp
Nou as an elite midfielder.

   There is also the belief that the 41-year-old would instil an attractive
style similar to the one played by Barcelona when he was there under Pep
Guardiola.

  But Laporta has reportedly had reservations about appointing Xavi in the
past, not least because of his lack of experience.

   Xavi might also be reluctant to join, with the club in such a financial
mess and now without his former team-mate Messi.

  He is though the clear favourite to take the reins.

   Marcelo Gallardo

  Gallardo has been manager of River Plate for seven seasons and long been
touted for a move to one of Europe's biggest clubs, including Barcelona.

   The 45-year-old Argentine has won 12 trophies in his time in charge of
River and believes in a modern, eye-catching playing style based on
possession football and counter-pressing.

   Hiring someone without coaching experience in Europe would be a risk,
however, and it could also be difficult to persuade Gallardo to leave the
Buenos Aires giants mid-season.

   Erik ten Hag

   Ten Hag has become one of the most highly rated coaches in the world for
his work at Ajax, taking them to two Dutch titles and a Champions League
semi-final in 2019.

   The 51-year-old Dutchman would continue a long tradition of moves between
Ajax and Barca, with the clubs united by their adoration of Johan Cruyff.

   Ten Hag is a disciple of attractive, possession football but he is also
fiercely loyal to Ajax and is not believed to be keen on leaving after
signing a contract until 2023 last summer.

   Also has admirers in the Premier League, reportedly including Manchester
United.

  

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