Former Barcelona defender Rafa Marquez has emerged as a serious candidate to replace Xavi as the club’s head coach. Marquez only began coaching in 2020 and is currently the manager of Barcelona’s B team. The two former players were teammates at the Catalan club for seven years between 2003 and 2010. Barcelona collected a series of trophies during this timeframe, including four LaLiga titles and a pair of Champions League triumphs.

Xavi previously revealed that he would be leaving his role with the team at the end of the current campaign. Upon making the announcement, the coach claimed that he did not exactly enjoy his time at the helm. Nevertheless, Barcelona rattled off a 13-game unbeaten run following the manager’s comments.

This impressive form, however, ended Tuesday night in the Champions League quarterfinals against Paris Saint-Germain. The Spanish side entered the match with a slim advantage in the two-legged affair. Barcelona, however, ended up getting thumped by the reigning Ligue 1 champions by a score of 4-1 and was subsequently knocked out of the competition.

A Barcelona defeat at the weekend may signify Xavi’s departure

Although club president Joan Laporta has been adamant in wanting Xavi to change his mind regarding his upcoming departure, the coach does not seemingly want to stay. Along with this, the debacle against PSG may force the club to speed up their search for a new manager. The team is now out of the European tournament and sits eight points behind Real Madrid in the domestic table.

The two Spanish rivals meet at the weekend in a massive matchup. A Real victory would wrap up the club’s quest for the league title. If this happens to be the outcome of the fixture, reports out of Spain suggest Xavi could be immediately fired.

Diario AS is reporting that Marquez could very well be appointed the new Barcelona manager if the team loses on Sunday. Club brass may opt to part ways with Xavi earlier than expected, despite publicly pleading for the coach to change his mind and remain with the team.

Potentially promoting Marquez makes sense for multiple reasons

Marquez, however, is not the only coaching candidate to potentially replace Xavi. German duo Hansi Flick and Thomas Tuchel are also under consideration. Nevertheless, Marquez is a more long-term option due to his age and strong connections to the club.

The former defender does not have a stellar record since joining the Barcelona B team. His win rate is currently below 50%. However, the club does sit second in the standings and is in line with a playoff spot in hopes of promotion to the second tier.

Along with a quick transition from the B team to the senior squad, appointing Marquez would make sense financially. The club has been experiencing significant money issues for over a year now. As a result, they may not be able to attract more high-profile managers.

Marquez also has coached several of the young stars in the current senior Barcelona squad. Pau Cubarsí, Hector Fort, and Marc Guiu have all progressed through the ranks to Xavi’s team this season. The familiarity between the youngsters and Marquez would certainly be a positive.

The current Barcelona B coach’s contract is set to expire at the end of the season. Nevertheless, potentially re-signing Marquez is not expected to be much of an issue for the Catalan club.