Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez has reacted to rumors he could replace Ronald Koeman as coach of the Catalan giants at the end of the 2020-21 season.
The former midfielder is set to stay on as manager of Qatari side Al Sadd after signing a two-year deal and responded to rumors his new contract contains a “Barcelona clause” that allows him to leave for the Camp Nou if the Catalans make an approach.
Xavi has insisted such reports are untrue and that his future lies with Al Sadd until 2023 when his new deal expires, as reported by the club’s official website.
“This is incorrect. I have a two-season contract with Al-Sadd, and I respect this contract, and I also respect the official negotiation methods between all parties,” he said. “Our challenge is to continue to improve and develop, and I am very excited to help Al-Sadd players do that.”
Xavi has won six titles since taking charge of Al Sadd in 2019 after finally hanging up his boots in what is his first managerial post. The former Barcelona midfielder has just overseen an unbeaten season in the Qatar Stars League in 2020-21, with his team scoring 77 goals in 22 matches.
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Barcelona ‘Annoyed’ With Koeman
Meanwhile, Koeman is under pressure despite winning his first trophy as Barcelona manager in April with a 4-0 victory over Athletic in the Copa del Rey. Barca had also been in contention to win La Liga, but the club’s title hopes took a huge blow with a 3-3 draw at Levante on Tuesday.
The result has left the Barcelona board “annoyed” at seeing the title slip away and ready to blame Koeman for “failing to find tactical solutions and for making mistakes with his substitutions,” according to Diario Sport.
Barca had the title in their hands just two weeks ago. However, defeats to Granada and Real Madrid and draws with Atletico and Levante have left the Catalan giants needing a miracle to finish top.
The report adds that many directors feel Koeman “is responsible for failing to stop the bleeding” and is to blame for the recent poor results. However, new president Joan Laporta is in no rush to make a decision and will wait until the end of the campaign to talk about the future.
Who Could Replace Koeman?
Xavi has long been considered as a future Barcelona boss, but the former midfielder seems in no rush to return to the Camp Nou. His latest comments suggest a move to the Camp Nou is not on the cards any time soon.
It’s not clear who Barca could turn to if the club does decide to part ways with Koeman after just one season. According to ESPN, the Catalan giants approached Bayern Munich boss Hansi Flick but were told the coach is close to agreeing a deal to manage the German national teams.
Diario Sport has speculated about other potential candidates and included Jordi Cruyff, Jurgen Klopp, Marcelo Gallardo, Thierry Henry, and Gabi Milito as possible options for Barca. Reserve team coach Francisco Javier García Pimienta is also on the list and has admitted recently he’s keen to take Koeman’s job.