Koeman on the brink at Barcelona, with Xavi favourite to step in and Rodgers a real dark horse

Xavi has been installed as the favourite to replace Koeman as Barca coach but Leicester coach Brendan Rodgers remains a dark horse for the post.

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman looks set to be the first big name coaching departure in European soccer this season.

Koeman has been under huge pressure ever since Joan Laporta returned to Camp Nou in March when he was re-elected president of the club.

The club's huge off-field issues, which led to Lionel Messi's departure, meant Laporta had to focus on stabilising the club and Koeman was allowed to start the season.

Ronald Araujo Barcelona vs Granada Sep21

Pressure has increased following Barcelona's 3-0 humbling to Portuguese side Benfica in the Champions League. They are pointless from two games in Europe's elite competition which includes another 3-0 defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich in Group E.

While they remain undefeated in La Liga, they have just three wins from six and currently sit in sixth place.

Their next fixture is against champions Atletico Madrid but Koeman's fate could be sealed long before then.

The club's board already have a lengthy list of replacements in mind, and Planet Sport have been quick to assess the leading candidates.


Xavi June21

Has long-time been heralded as the man to save Barcelona, but he has always resisted the chance to come back to his spiritual home. Laporta's presidential rival Victor Font believed he had an agreement with Xavi to come in if he won.

Xavi has since signed a new two-year deal with Qatari side Al-Sadd - but how long can he keep turning down their overtures? It is safe to say if Xavi wants to replace Koeman, it is his job to turn down and so it is no surprise to see him priced up as favourite.

Marcelo Gallardo

Marcelo Gallardo is yet another coach who has turned down Barcelona before. The Argentine midfield star, also previously linked with Real Madrid, was approached by Barca after they parted company with Ernesto Valverde, but he said no. Now he is again in the running to come in, having earned a reputation as one of South America's best coaches.

However, having originally been priced up as second favourite, Gallardo's odds are on the drift.

Roberto Martinez

The Belgian national coach is highly respected and has experience of working with some of the biggest names in world soccer. He would certainly bring the flair back to Camp Nou, but his club CV hardly points to Barcelona level.

Jordi Cruyff

Probably not a long-term solution, but the son of the Barcelona legend could be in the right place at the right time - think Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United. Cruyff is currently acting as sporting advisor to the club and could be an easy appointment. And remember, in this market, 10 games in charge means you win. So at 12/1 you could do a lot worse than look at the club's former winger.

Imanol Alguacil

Imanol Alguacil Real Sociedad Aug21

The outstanding La Liga candidate, the Real Sociedad boss has been performing very well with the club he has spent most of his career with. Hugely respected, but doubtful he would be willing to quit the Basque giants mid-season.

Phillip Cocu

Again like Cruyff, could be right place at right time. He failed at Derby County last time out but has good links to the club and is a legend from his playing time at Camp Nou - wouldn't rule him out.

Andrea Pirlo

Reports in Italy suggest the former Juventus star and head coach is in their thinking. Would no doubt be pleasing on the eye, but having failed at Juve and having no formal ties with Barcelona, it is hard to see.

Joachim Low

The out of work former German coach has not worked in club soccer since 2004 following his 11-year stint with the national team. Highly regarded, the 61-year-old is one of the biggest names currently not tied to a club.

Mikel Arteta

He has hardly had the best of starts this season but he has moved down the Sack Race list in the Premier League following victory over north London rivals Tottenham. He has good links with the club having come through the academy and still knows plenty of people from that time.

Would be a hugely controversial move given his struggles at the Emirates, however.

Brendan Rodgers

Brendan Rodgers Leicester City Aug21

A real dark horse, but Spanish-speaking Rodgers is one of the most respected managers in the Premier League.

The Leicester boss was seen as the heir-apparent to Pep Guardiola before he signed his new long-term deal at Manchester City last year.

Joan Laporta is understood to have been keeping close tabs on his progress in recent years and a stuttering start to the campaign for Leicester could persuade Rodgers the time is right for a change.

READ MORE: Five Manchester United managers who were far worse than Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

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