Barcelona registered their first back-to-back group stage losses in the Champions League since 2000 when the Catalan side was humbled in a 3-0 loss against Benfica. Ronald Koeman felt threatened by the media and Barcelona supporters as he asks for patience and trust from the club in this difficult period.
President Laporta has already shared his thoughts regarding Koeman’s future which indicates that the Barcelona legend will stay. However, many reports suggest that the team’s performances will be closely monitored. With three draws and a loss in the league and two losses in the Champions League, Koeman needs to find a quick solution as the club has already shortlisted some of the finest coaches for the job.
Here are some of the potential candidates for the job:
3. Roberto Martinez
The Spaniard has been Belgium’s head coach since 2016 and has praised the philosophy of Johan Cruyff as a major influence in his managerial approach. This makes him an ideal candidate for the job as many believe that the next coach must follow Cruyff’s philosophy, which reinvented modern football at Barca. Martinez has an excellent record of 50 wins in just 66 games for Belgium.
Belgium has retained their no.1 ranking for 3 consecutive years but has failed to make it to the finals of any major tournament with their ‘Golden Generation’. Barcelona’s current situation is critical and the expectations will be high from the newly appointed manager, which is a concerning reason as Martinez has failed to deliver in terms of silverware.
2. Erik Ten Hag
The Ajax boss has the perfect profile that fits Barcelona the most. He is popular for his stylistic approach which matches Johan Cruyff’s ideals. Fans will be happy if he signs and produces a resurgence similar to Ajax’s 2018/19 campaign. Erik ten Hag was highly praised for his style of play as Ajax stood tall against every heavyweight, they faced that season.
That side consisted of young individuals who were turned into world-class players and later on made their moves to big clubs such as Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt. Barcelona has a similar squad with emerging talents ready to make their moves and Ten Hag’s record of rising youngsters into the next superstars could be a major factor. Ten Hag could follow Johan Cruyff’s route by joining Barca from Ajax to the club’s delight.
One of their own and one of the greatest players in Barcelona’s history, Xavi, has always been a fan’s favourite in recent years. The 40-year-old is the head coach of Al-Sadd and has always expressed an interest in his return to Barca. Barcelona had approached Xavi following Ernesto Valverde’s sacking in 2020 but he decided to wait for his return. Xavi’s Al-Sadd is doing well and won the league last season without a defeat.
Xavi has played under Guardiola and has shared the same philosophy. Al-Sadd is playing attractive football under Xavi, for which Barcelona is known. However, President Laporta isn’t satisfied with Xavi’s portfolio due to a lack of experience. Laporta doesn’t want to rush into things and wants someone with experience and who understands Barca’s philosophy. Xavi’s return could be on the cards but it will be a huge responsibility to lead the new project.