The news of Xavi Hernandez’s departure from Barcelona as manager has fuelled speculation about who the Catalan club will seek as a replacement.

The 44-year-old head coach made a daring announcement, confirming his intention to depart the club at the conclusion of the season.

The former Spanish national team captain guided Barcelona to La Liga glory at the season’s conclusion in 2022-23. But they haven’t been able to repeat that performance this season.

Their 11-point deficit to Girona doesn’t stop them from pursuing the championship run. The Camp Nou outfit also hopes to advance to the Champions League Quarter-Finals. The Blaugrana, nevertheless, have a good shot of finishing the season trophyless.

Xavi dropped hints lately that he and the club are in contract extension negotiations. But after their 5-3 La Liga defeat to Villarreal, he shocked everyone by dropping a bombshell.

“On June 30 I will leave the club. It’s a decision I have discussed with the President, and with the staff. Barca need a change of direction. I think that will help the club dynamic to change and I still think we can have a very good season. I have to think about the club before myself”, he told the media.

Internal solution gets early nod

The players are probably taken aback by Xavi’s decision, even if they have had inconsistent results across all tournaments this season. Throughout the season, his squad have been his unwavering supporters.

Rumors about Xavi’s replacement are already growing fast
Rumors about Xavi’s replacement are already growing fast

Rumors about Xavi’s replacement are already growing fast

Xavi’s current contract was set to expire in 2025, but major changes are underway in Catalonia. As a result, the hunt for his replacement will immediately begin before the completion of the present campaign.

It’s still unclear whether the club will announce a new manager before the Spaniards’ departure. Nonetheless, a frontrunner among the early favorites has shown interest in accepting the position. Rafael Marquez, head coach of Barca B, is a potential choice; the former defender is ready to take the call in 2024.

“Who wouldn’t want to be Barca coach? I will continue working hard, it’s only my second season as a coach”, he recently told Mundo Deportivo. “The board will have time to think carefully between now and the end of the season. But, you can’t say no to an opportunity like this!”

What are the other options for Xavi’s succesor?

Not only that, but Italian expert Fabrizio Romano says that Roberto De Zerbi of Brighton is one coach the club might choose. Ladbrokes has the Italian pegged as the frontrunner to replace Xavi, with odds of 5/1, according to an article in The Sun.

“De Zerbi is likely to be an option in common for both clubs, but Barcelona are still taking their time before deciding their shortlist’, Romano said.

“It’s very easy to mention names like De Zerbi or Xabi Alonso for these clubs, but although they are strong candidates around Europe, I can guarantee that with Barcelona it will take time, because it has to be decided by Joan Laporta but also other people in the Barca board, including Deco.”

Meanwhile, RAC1 reports that Blaugrana board members prefer Jurgen Klopp of Liverpool. During an emotional interview this weekend, Klopp announced his summer resignation from his position as manager at Anfield after nine years in charge.

On the other hand, Thiago Motta’s stellar performance as Bologna’s coach has prompted rumors that Joan Laporta is seriously considering making him Xavi’s successor.  On Saturday, when questioned about it, Motta simply said that he was ‘enjoying his time’ in Italy.

“I heard of Xavi leaving Barca, yes — they told me this news some minutes ago… Barca links for the future? I live in the present. I’m enjoying my time at Bologna, I’m only focused on the present”.

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