Xavi Hernandez could be taking on a new role with FC Barcelona…
The team is reportedly opening talks with the 41-year-old Spanish professional football manager and former Barca team captain following the firing of coach Ronald Koeman.
Koemamn’s firing came after the team’s 1-0 LaLiga loss to Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday, their third defeat in their last four league games.
Hernandez is reportedly now the first choice.
However, the same sources add that Barca don’t expect to have a replacement in place until after the November international break. An interim coach is set to take charge of the next three games against Alaves, Dynamo Kiev and Celta Vigo.
Koeman’s position had been seriously weakened after poor results prior to the October international break, with back-to-back defeats against Real Madrid and Rayo this week proving to be the tipping point.
He leaves Barca in ninth place in the league and in danger of missing out on the Champions League knockout phase for the first time in 20 years, with the side yet to register an away win in any competition this season.
The club said in a statement: “FC Barcelona have relieved Ronald Koeman of his duties as first-team coach. The president of the club, Joan Laporta, informed him of the decision after the defeat against Rayo Vallecano.
“Koeman will say goodbye to the squad on Thursday at the Ciutat Esportiva. FC Barcelona wishes to thank him for his service to the club and wishes him all the best in his professional career.”
As for Xavi, the former midfield great won a slew of trophies with Barca in his 17 years as a senior player, including eight LaLiga titles and four Champions League medals. He then joined Al Sadd in 2015, becoming head coach at the Qatari club after hanging up his boots in 2019. It’s his only managerial experience so far.
Along with Xavi, sources had previously told ESPN that Belgium boss Roberto Martinez and was among the candidates.
Laporta had first considered sacking Koeman in the summer and even told him he needed two weeks to try and find a new manager. In the end, due to a lack of credible alternatives, Laporta decided to stick with Koeman.
However, sources said that former Netherlands boss Koeman was upset by Laporta’s actions and the relationship between the two has never been the same since.
Despite that, Laporta handed Koeman a stay of execution last month after the 3-0 Champions League defeat to Benfica in Lisbon. Since then, though, Barca have lost to Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid and now Rayo in the league.
“[Being ninth in LaLiga] is not good,” Koeman said after striker Radamel Falcao‘s goal condemned Barca to defeat in Vallecas on Wednesday, with Memphis Depay missing a penalty.
“It shows the team’s level has dipped, in terms of the balance in the squad. We have lost players with a lot of effectiveness in the final third. I think in recent years the teams at the top have strengthened and we have not been able to. That counts.
“But not today, because despite missing players we played well, but you can’t say that when you don’t score, not in Spain.”
Asked if the result placed his job in danger, hours before he was fired, Koeman said “I don’t know.”
Koeman also lamented the exit of star player Messi in recent weeks. He said the Argentina international had disguised many of the team’s flaws and was responsible for making the players around him even better.