Eder Sarabia, the assistant to Quique Setien during his Barcelona tenure, has been appointed head coach of the Gerard Pique-owned FC Andorra.

After working under Setien at LaLiga clubs Las Palmas, Real Betis and Barca, Sarabia has taken his first head coaching job with the Segunda B side.

His appointment came just hours after Nacho Castro was relieved of his duties, with Andorra sitting second in Segunda B3 and having won 2-0 against Llagostera on Sunday.

Sarabia has been backed by Pique despite being involved in reports of unrest during Setien's turbulent Barca stint, which ended last August.

His touchline manner during a Clasico against Real Madrid last March reportedly drew the ire of the Barca players, while in June he was involved in further controversy when footage purportedly showing Lionel Messi ignoring his instructions was shared on social media.

Quique Setien insisted he would be prepared to return to Barcelona after an "extraordinary" experience at the helm of the LaLiga giants.

Setien took charge of Barca in January until the end of a miserable 2019-20 season, which the club finished without a trophy and were humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.

The 62-year-old, who sued the club, talked up his experience at Camp Nou and said he would be willing to return.

"The experience was extraordinary," Setien said, via Marca.

"It is true that we did not enjoy what we would have liked and with that illusion I went from the beginning.

"Of course I would return to Barcelona and I would never regret having gone, not at all."

Setien has been without a job since being sacked by Barcelona in August.

The former Real Betis and Las Palmas coach said he needed time after his sacking.

"I have already overcome the mourning that I had to go through for what happened in Barcelona," Setien said.

"But this is an accident, one more that you take as part of your job."

Former Barcelona coach Quique Setien claims the club still have not compensated him for his early dismissal, or even called to inform of his contract termination three months on.

Setien arrived at Barca in January as Ernesto Valverde's replacement, signing on a contract until 2022 as the club hoped to reconnect with their philosophy of exciting, possession-based football.

However, Setien's time at Barca was fraught with problems, from an apparently strained relationship with talisman Lionel Messi that reportedly spread to other members of the squad, to underwhelming results and performances on the pitch.

The culmination of numerous issues at the club was the 8-2 humiliation by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-final, a result that contributed to Messi's desire to leave and effectively spelled the end for Setien in August.

He was swiftly replaced by Ronald Koeman, who himself is struggling to oversee an improvement, though Setien opened legal proceedings against Barca the following month as he alleged that he and his coaching staff were only given official notification of their contract terminations in September via Burofax.

More than three months on from his initial dismissal and Setien is claiming Barca still have not spoken to him directly about his sacking or paid compensation, though his staff did reach agreements with the club in the past week.

"Barca have not compensated me, nor have they offered me anything," Setien told COPE's El Partidazo show. "They have not even called me to tell me that I am dismissed.

"It's evident that the club is going through a worrying moment, something that when you arrive is clearly perceived and which directly affects sports performance.

"You always believe that from within you may be able to help solve it, but for us, despite putting everything on our side, it has been impossible."

Luis Suarez will not try to convince Lionel Messi to join Atletico Madrid but would happily endorse the move if the Barcelona captain wanted to make it happen.

Messi failed to engineer a switch away from Camp Nou in the close season and his future at Barca remains uncertain, with his contract due to expire at the end of June.

The club's interim board and numerous presidential candidates have suggested that a projected loss of revenue amid the coronavirus pandemic means the six-time Ballon d'Or winner would need to agree a pay adjustment to stay beyond this campaign.

It was believed one of the motivating factors behind Messi's desire to leave before the start of the season was the treatment of close friend Suarez, who assisted more Barca goals for him (47) than any other player, following Ronald Koeman's appointment.

Suarez was deemed surplus to requirements and shipped off to Atletico for a nominal fee, but he does not intend to go out of his way to make Messi follow him.

"I'll always say it: Leo is mature enough to make the decisions he needs to make by himself. I'll never try to influence what he does; wherever he's happy, I'll always support his right to make the decision that's best for him," Suarez told AS.

"If at any point the possibility arises, then he should say so as obviously I'm going to talk very highly of him to the club.

"But as far as suggesting things to him is concerned, I think he's the one who has to make such decisions and wherever he's happiest is the best place for him to be."

Messi is yet to score from open play in nine appearances in all competitions this season and Koeman this week defended the Argentina international after footage of him failing to close down a player in the final moments of Barca's 2-1 Champions League victory over Dynamo Kiev went viral on social media.

Asked if Messi looked low on morale, Suarez said: "He's 33 years old and he knows how to deal with any situation.

"To me he looks like he has the same desire that he did before, is enjoying his football and is still fighting as hard as ever, which is the main thing. He keeps on trying even if the ball doesn't want to go in. That says a lot about him."

Messi's haul of 31 goals in all competitions last season – 15 of which were scored after Quique Setien replaced Ernesto Valverde as head coach in January – was his worst tally since registering 16 in 2007-08.

Setien, who was sacked after the 8-2 humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals in August, this week said Messi was "difficult to manage", but Suarez painted a different picture.

"I'd rather not get into that, because it only helps to turn it into a bigger issue than it should be," said Suarez. 

"Any team-mate who has worked alongside Leo will talk highly of him, of what a class player he is and what a top guy he is away from the pitch. He really helps the youngsters, giving them pieces of advice.

"Every player who has worked with him talks highly of him. That says a lot about the kind of player and person he is in that dressing room."

Lionel Messi is "difficult to manage" at Camp Nou, according to former Barcelona head coach Quique Setien.

Setien was sacked by Barca following a tumultuous 2019-20 season which saw the club dethroned by bitter rivals Real Madrid in LaLiga and humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Former Real Betis boss Setien was replaced by Ronald Koeman at the end of the campaign, having only filled the void left by Ernesto Valverde in January.

Setien hailed Messi but reflected on a difficult period with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner in Barcelona.

"I think Messi is the best of all time," Setien told El Pais. "There have been other great players who have been great, but the continuity that this boy has had throughout the years has not been had by anyone.

"Leo is difficult to manage. Who am I to change him! If they have accepted him as he is for years and have not changed him.

"There's another facet beyond just the player and it's more difficult to manage. Much more difficult. It's something inherent in many athletes that can be seen in the Michael Jordan documentary ['The Last Dance']. You see things you don't expect.

"He's very reserved but he makes you see the things that he wants. He doesn't talk much."

Setien, who has announced legal action over the handling of his Barca dismissal, added: "After leaving what I am clear on is that at certain times should have made other decisions, but there's something above you: the club.

"And it is above the president, the player, the coach. It's the club and the fans. They are the ones to whom you owe the greatest respect, and you have to do what is most convenient for the club as a whole."

Ronald Koeman gets his first taste of El Clasico from the dugout on Saturday, when Barcelona host Real Madrid.

A favourite of Johan Cruyff's mighty 'Dream Team' of the early 1990s, the pressure is on Koeman the coach to get Barca back to winning trophies at home and in Europe after last season's miserable ending.

He will have a chance to earn some sizeable brownie points against a Madrid side who are reeling from back-to-back defeats to Cadiz and Shakhtar Donetsk, results that have placed much of the pre-game scrutiny on Koeman's opposite number, Zinedine Zidane.

As the former Netherlands boss looks to end a two-game winless run for Barca in Spain's grandest fixture, we look at how his predecessors fared in their first Clasicos in LaLiga...

 

PEP GUARDIOLA. BARCELONA 2-0 REAL MADRID. DECEMBER 13, 2008.

Both dugouts featured coaches taking charge of teams in a Clasico for the first time and it was Guardiola who got the better of Madrid's Juande Ramos.

Late goals from Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi earned Barcelona the victory as they moved 12 points clear of Madrid in the table too.

That victory occurred during a 10-game winning streak in LaLiga and it was no surprise that Barca, who beat Madrid 6-2 later in the season, went on to win the title.

TITO VILANOVA. BARCELONA 2-2 REAL MADRID. OCTOBER 7, 2012.

The two clubs had already met in the Supercopa de Espana at the start of the season, Madrid winning on away goals after both teams had won a leg apiece.

Their first league meeting of 2012-13 was all about Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi as both men scored twice in a 2-2 draw.

Ronaldo scored for a record sixth successive Clasico to put Madrid ahead and, after Messi had netted a brace, Los Blancos' Portuguese star took his tally to 160 goals in 155 games since his 2009 move from Manchester United with an equaliser.

 

GERARDO MARTINO. BARCELONA 2-1 REAL MADRID. OCTOBER 23, 2013.

All eyes were on new recruits Neymar and Gareth Bale and it was the former who scored first to set Barca on their way.

Alexis Sanchez would double that lead and though Jese Rodriguez pulled one back, Madrid fell to a defeat that left them six points behind Barcelona after just 10 league games.

Both teams would finish the campaign on 87 points, a total not good enough to win the league as Atletico Madrid claimed 90 to be crowned champions.

LUIS ENRIQUE. REAL MADRID 3-1 BARCELONA. OCTOBER 25, 2014.

The Blaugrana had claimed 22 points from the first 24 available but they suffered defeat at Santiago Bernabeu in October 2014.

Barca debutant Luis Suarez, back after a four-month ban for biting, set up Neymar for a fourth-minute opener but the home side stormed back.

An in-form Ronaldo levelled from the spot with his 21st goal of the season before Pepe and Karim Benzema scored in the second half.

 

ERNESTO VALVERDE. REAL MADRID 0-3 BARCELONA. DECEMBER 23, 2017.

Los Blancos' awful start to the 2017-18 campaign continued as Barcelona moved 14 points clear of the defending champions with a comfortable win at the Bernabeu.

Suarez, Messi and Arturo Vidal all scored while Madrid, who had beaten Barca in both Supercopa de Espana legs at the beginning of the campaign, had Dani Carvajal dismissed for handball.

It was the first time Barcelona had won three successive league matches at the Bernabeu in Clasico history, and they went into the last match in our list with four straight victories at the ground.

 

QUIQUE SETIEN, REAL MADRID 2-0 BARCELONA, MARCH 1, 2020.

Setien, who took over from Valverde in January this year, had Barca on a four-game winning streak in LaLiga ahead of their trip to the capital.

What followed was a miserable outing for the Catalans, as second-half goals from Vinicius Junior and Mariano Diaz – in his first league appearance of the season – secured the win for the hosts.

The result lifted Madrid to the top of the table and set them on course to win the title after the coronavirus-enforced break to the season. Setien was sacked in August, his final game in charge that humiliating 8-2 Champions League loss to Bayern Munich.

Antoine Griezmann could be set to renew his contract at Barcelona.

The France international has faced criticism for failing to live up to expectations since joining Barca from Atletico Madrid last year.

However, Griezmann may join the list of players renewing with the LaLiga giants.

 

TOP STORY – GRIEZMANN SET FOR BARCELONA RENEWAL

Griezmann could be among the next group of players to renew at Barcelona, according to EFE.

It claims Sergio Busquets and Sergi Roberto may also re-sign, amid reports players are reducing their wages at the club.

It comes after Barcelona announced the re-signings of Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Gerard Pique, Frenkie de Jong and Clement Lenglet on Tuesday.

Griezmann scored 15 goals in 48 games for Barca last season, while he is yet to net in four appearances in 2020-21.

 

ROUND-UP

- A former Barcelona head coach could be set for a new job. Marca reports Palmeiras have made a move for Quique Setien after the departure of Vanderlei Luxemburgo.

- Despite signing Nathan Ake and Ruben Dias in the close season, Manchester City are reportedly look for another defender. Fabrizio Romano suggested the Premier League giants are monitoring Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres.

- Christian Eriksen's Inter future remains uncertain. CalcioMercato reports Inter turned down a loan bid from Borussia Dortmund in the close season, but the Serie A club could be open to the midfielder leaving in January.

- After Virgil van Dijk suffered a serious knee injury, Liverpool are linked with defenders. The Sun says Brighton and Hove Albion would demand at least £50million for Ben White if the Premier League champions make a move for the centre-back in January.

Barcelona are facing legal action from Quique Setien after the coach they sacked last month revealed dismay over the handling of his dismissal.

Setien was removed from his post in a move that allowed Ronald Koeman to return to Camp Nou to take charge of the team.

Former Real Betis boss Setien indicated Barcelona have offered no compensation and said the Catalan club have failed to honour terms of the contract he signed in January.

In a statement that Setien posted on social media, from himself and his coaching team of Eder Sarabia, Jon Pascua and Fran Soto, it was claimed that all four only received written confirmation of their sackings on Wednesday of this week.

Those came via burofax, the coaches said, with the statement saying there had been "absolute silence on the part of the FC Barcelona board of directors" until that point.

According to the statement from Setien and his coaches, Barcelona indicated "a clear intention ... not to comply" with contracts that were signed on January 14, in the week that Setien succeeded Ernesto Valverde.

Setien said in the statement: "It is public and well known that, on August 17, both the club and the president announced my dismissal with immediate effect.

"However, it was not until yesterday, September 16 (one month later), when they sent me, for the first time, the written communication of said dismissal (without any settlement)."

The statement from Setien and his coaches added: "For all that has been said, we have been forced to put the conflict resolution in the hands of our lawyers, having to file the corresponding legal actions.

"This is in order to preserve our rights and what was agreed upon with FC Barcelona."

Setien endured a tough seven months as head coach after relacing Valverde.

Following a three-month pause in the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Barcelona were overtaken by Real Madrid in the LaLiga title run-in.

They were then humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, a result which proved the final straw for president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the Barcelona board as Setien departed.

Captain Lionel Messi sought to follow his coach out of Camp Nou but could not agree terms for a free transfer.

Ronald Koeman has been hired as Barcelona's new head coach following Monday's dismissal of Quique Setien.

The Dutchman leaves his role as head coach of the Netherlands, having agreed a two-year deal at Camp Nou.

Setien's sacking was confirmed after just seven months in charge, as he paid the price for Barca's failure to win LaLiga and their 8-2 Champions League humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich.

That quarter-final defeat last Friday was Barca's worst since 1946 and others could yet follow Setien out of the door.

First-team technical secretary Eric Abidal has also left after his position came under severe scrutiny, while president Josep Maria Bartomeu confirmed the club's elections have been brought forward to March but has resisted calls to step down. The incumbent will not be able to stand for presidency again.

Before Koeman was confirmed, Barca announced the appointment of Ramon Planes to replace Abidal.

Changes are coming for Barca and the arrival of Koeman, who spent six years with the club as a player until 1995 and was also Louis van Gaal's assistant from 1998 to 2000, is chief among them.

Koeman had been working as head coach of his whom nation, having taken charge following Dick Advocaat's failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

His impact with the Oranje was swift, leading them to the Nations League final last year and winning six of eight Euro 2020 qualifiers – their solitary defeat coming to Germany in March 2019 – en route to securing a place at the finals.

Koeman was approached by Barca when Ernesto Valverde was sacked in January but turned them down, citing his commitment to leading the Netherlands through Euro 2020. However, the tournament was postponed by a year due to coronavirus and Koeman's personal circumstances shifted when he was hospitalised for heart surgery in May.

Barca will now hope Koeman can elicit a similar response at Camp Nou as he did with his national team, but he is facing an uphill battle.

Captain and talisman Lionel Messi has reportedly told the club he wants to leave as soon as possible, while Gerard Pique has called for wholesale changes and even offered to move on for the benefit of the team.

Barca will also be without Marc-Andre ter Stegen until November after the goalkeeper had knee surgery, and the impact of the COVID-19 crisis is likely to make significant spending in the transfer market difficult.

Koeman will not have long to implement any changes, either. The 2020-21 LaLiga season is due to begin in a little under a month's time.

It is widely thought Koeman is seen as a stop-gap until the club can convince former midfielder Xavi – now coach of Al Sadd – to return, having so far been unsuccessful in their attempts to bring him back. Presidential candidate Victor Font has named the ex-Spain star as a top target should he win the election.

Mauricio Pochettino had also been mentioned as a possible option and was apparently favoured by Bartomeu, but media reports claim the board refused to sanction his appointment due to his connections to local rivals Espanyol and disparaging comments he had previously made regarding the Blaugrana.

Ronald Koeman has been hired as Barcelona's new head coach following Monday's dismissal of Quique Setien.

 

 

Barcelona sporting director Eric Abidal has had his contract terminated by mutual consent, the LaLiga club have announced.

The former France international's departure continues a post-season overhaul at Camp Nou, with head coach Quique Setien sacked following the humiliating 8-2 Champions League quarter-final loss to Bayern Munich.

A report by Sport suggested the majority of the Barcelona first-team squad are up for sale ahead of Ronald Koeman's expected appointment as Setien's successor.

Lionel Messi is not among the vast list of Blaugrana players thought to be on the market, although a report by Marcelo Bechler – the journalist who broke news of Neymar's shock move from Barca to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 – stated the six-time Ballon d'Or winner wants to leave.

What increasingly looks like a sizeable rebuild will now not be helmed by Abidal, who has been under pressure since the botched handling of Ernesto Valverde's departure.

Setien's predecessor was dismissed in January after Barcelona were knocked out of the Supercopa de Espana, despite them being top of LaLiga at that stage.

"FC Barcelona and Eric Abidal have reached an agreement for the termination of the contract which united both parties," a club statement read.

"The club publicly expresses its gratitude to Eric Abidal for the professionalism, commitment, dedication and positive and close treatment he has always shown towards all the estates that make up the Barca family and wishes him luck and success in the future."

Abidal always looked vulnerable after Barcelona's collapse at home – Real Madrid regained the LaLiga title – and abroad, yet a report by Cadena Cope late on Monday said he would remain in his post.

Despite a succession of underwhelming and expensive signings since his June 2018 appointment, from a flop on the grand scale of the now departed Malcom to the hugely underwhelming and publicly pursued Antoine Griezmann, Abidal's handling of Valverde's exit marked something of a nadir.

A coach responsible for back-to-back LaLiga triumphs, albeit set alongside painful Champions League exits at the hands of Roma and Liverpool, was undermined by reports of Abidal apparently courting Xavi for his post, only for the club great to reject a return to Barcelona in the dugout and pave the way for Setien's doomed tenure.

Most significantly, especially given recent reports around the 33-year-old captain's future, Messi reacted furiously to Abidal's suggestion the Barcelona players had not been working hard enough under Valverde.

In an Instagram post in February, Messi wrote: "Honestly, I don’t like doing these things but I think that everyone has to be responsible for his acts and take responsibility for their own decisions.

"The players [are responsible for] what happens on the pitch, and we have been the first to recognise when we were not good. The people in the sporting directorate should also assume their responsibility and above all take ownership of the decisions they make.

"Finally, I think that when players are talked about, names should be given because, if not, we are all being dirtied and it feeds comments that are made and are not true."

The prolonged torment of the past few months stands in stark contrast to Abidal's inspirational playing days at Barcelona.

A €9million signing from Lyon in 2007, he went on to star in the 2008-09 treble-winning side under Pep Guardiola – the honours of that season being the first of four LaLiga titles, two Champions Leagues and two Copas del Rey that Abidal won as a player in Catalonia.

In March 2011, Abidal was diagnosed with a tumour in his liver and underwent surgery to have it removed. Remarkably, he was back in action before the end of the season and played 90 minutes in the 3-1 Champions League final win over Manchester United, after which he was handed the captain's armband to lift the trophy at Wembley.

The 67-cap France international was forced to undergo a liver transplant the following year but again made a comeback before moving to Monaco at the end of the 2012-13 campaign, eventually retiring as a player in December 2014 after a short stint at Olympiacos.

Quique Setien has been sacked as head coach of Barcelona after their astonishing Champions League thrashing by Bayern Munich.

 

Mooted Barcelona target Ronald Koeman should only be given a one-year contract at Camp Nou with his future then decided by the club's next president, according to one candidate.

Koeman is reportedly set to be named as the new Blaugrana coach, leaving his role as Netherlands boss when the anticipated departure of Quique Setien is confirmed by the Catalan giants.

Setien failed to defend Barca's LaLiga crown and then suffered a humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Koeman may not be the only new face at the club, however, with the elections to come next year, potentially prompting changes in the boardroom.

Former vice-president Emili Rousaud, who quit in April, is in the running and would endorse Koeman's appointment only on a short-term basis.

"I would propose a year for Koeman, with the next conditional on who wins the election and whether they propose to continue," Rousaud told Radio Marca.

After making a call on their coach, Barca must then get to work in the transfer market. Rousaud suggests there should be plenty of outgoings.

"This cycle is over," he said. "Certain players over the age of 30 and with long contracts can't continue.

"We need to find creative solutions, such as loans of top earners to countries with lower tax rates."

With all eyes on Barcelona, Lionel Messi's future is again a talking point.

The Catalans capitulated in the Champions League on Friday, thrashed 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals in an embarrassing defeat.

Quique Setien appears set to be sacked as coach, while Messi's future has become unclear.

 

TOP STORY – MAN CITY TARGET MESSI AMID BARCELONA CHAOS

Manchester City think they are in pole position to sign Messi if he leaves Barcelona, according to the Mirror.

Messi, 33, is contracted to Barca until next year and is reportedly prepared to walk away from the club amid the chaos.

City have been linked with the record six-time Ballon d'Or winner previously, while Inter are another reportedly interested.

ROUND-UP

- Changes are expected at Barcelona. AS reports Messi will be free to decide his future in January, while it says Setien and technical secretary Eric Abidal are on their way out.

- The focus otherwise in Spain is on Setien's replacement at Barcelona. Mundo Deportivo reports Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman is a candidate to take over at Camp Nou with Mauricio Pochettino and Al Sadd boss Xavi losing steam. Marca says Pochettino and Koeman are favourites, while Sport reports the former Tottenham manager is the frontrunner. It says Koeman, Massimiliano Allegri, Thierry Henry and Garcia Pimienta are also candidates.

- Elsewhere, Chelsea's apparent search for a defender continues. The Sun reports they are closing in on a £40million move for Brighton and Hove Albion centre-back Lewis Dunk, who is also reportedly a target for Tottenham.

- Staying at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea are also linked with goalkeepers to replace Kepa Arrizabalaga. The Sun says Chelsea and Everton are targeting Watford's 37-year-old shot-stopper Ben Foster.

- After an impressive loan spell at Roma, Chris Smalling is attracting plenty of interest. Sky Sports reports Newcastle United are keen on the Manchester United defender.

"Nobody is safe," declared Gerard Pique after Barcelona were humiliated by Bayern Munich in their final match of a long, long season.

The defender was very clear that changes must be made in the wake of an 8-2 battering in the Champions League quarter-finals.

President Josep Maria Bartomeu is expected to chair an extraordinary board meeting on Monday, when the dismissal of head coach Quique Setien appears likely to be ratified.

Barca's problems stem far beyond the man in charge of the first team, but Setien looked powerless in the dugout in Lisbon on Friday and is the first obvious departure as part of a top-down clear-out at Camp Nou.

Appointing a replacement is complicated by next year's presidential elections. Assuming Bartomeu does not heed growing calls to step aside, he will be in power for at least another 10 months. That means any coach who comes in now could find himself supplanted by the preferred choice of the next president.

With that in mind, here are six of the firm favourites to take over from Setien.

 

Mauricio Pochettino

The favourite in many quarters, former Tottenham boss Pochettino could be a hugely tempting - and low-cost - choice.

The Argentinian, who left Spurs last November five months after reaching the Champions League final, has softened his stance on coaching Barca after previously declaring he could never take the job due to his allegiance to Espanyol.

Barca would represent by far the biggest job of his coaching career and the sheer challenge of getting them back on track could appeal to Pochettino, who turned Spurs into Premier League title challengers and top-four regulars over five years.

There are reports, however, that Pochettino's appointment could be a majorly divisive move, given his previous comments about Barcelona.

Xavi

Barca's former captain turned down the coaching job in January when Ernesto Valverde was sacked, and he may think the time is still not right to take the reins.

The Catalans would need to buy out his deal with Al Sadd as well as convince Xavi to come back, plus there are political complications, with presidential challenger Victor Font declaring the former Spain star would be his choice in 2021 if he wins the election.

Still, there are few who better understand the 'Barca DNA', he is adored by the fans and, crucially, he could be the man to convince Lionel Messi to stay.

 

Massimiliano Allegri

Another unattached option, Allegri has a commendable pedigree from his time with Milan and Juventus. Six Serie A titles, seven domestic cups and two Champions League finals in the past decade give Allegri a CV to rival any candidate.

He would certainly bring an uncompromising authority to the dressing room, as well as vast experience, but the 53-year-old could well be put off by the complications of those elections, especially given other leading clubs such as Paris Saint-Germain and Inter are said to be interested if they make a change.

Patrick Kluivert

Kluivert represents one of Bartomeu's more sensible possible appointments given he would probably accept the job despite the uncertainty of next year.

The former Barca striker is currently head of youth football at Camp Nou, and that is a role to which he could return if the head coach position became untenable in 2021.

He is another who understands the club well, would presumably be more than happy to promote youngsters to the first team, and he learned some of his coaching craft at the right hand of Louis van Gaal with the Netherlands national team.

 

Ronald Koeman

Another former Barca star who knows only too well the demands of the club, Koeman also spoke with them about replacing Valverde only to turn them down.

Like Xavi, Koeman is committed to his present project, which is to lead Netherlands at Euro 2020. With that tournament having been pushed back to next year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 57-year-old would appear unlikely to quit his national team now for the sake of a potential short-term posting at his old club.

Garcia Pimienta

Like Kluivert, Pimienta represents an internal candidate who would likely be unmoved by the looming elections.

A former academy player who made one appearance for the senior side, Pimienta has been coaching at La Masia since 2001 and took charge of the B team two years ago.

It would be unfair to expect him to become the new Pep Guardiola or Luis Enrique, who also honed their first-team credentials with the B team, but the 46-year-old would likely be a popular choice for the new generation of talent breaking through, even if the appointment lasted only until next year.

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