If you remember FC Barcelona soccer before the Ronaldinho Gaucho, Samuel Eto’o, and Frank Riikjard era, or the Lio Messi and Pep Guardiola era, then you know about the legendary status that former Netherlands defender Ronald Koeman holds for FC Barcelona fans. But now, after a tumultuous tenure as manager of the “culés”, one in which fans had to see stars like Lio Messi, Luis Suarez, and Antoine Griezmann leave the team, soccer experts are more focused now on when Koeman will finally get the chop and who will replace him.
Given that Koeman has built quite a prosperous coaching career for himself, it was only a matter of time before his turn to coach the club he loves most would come, but now, as he stares into unemployment rather than continuing to build his career as Barcelona coach, we take a look at the three best candidates to take over the FC Barcelona managerial job once Koeman is handed his walking papers.
When speaking of FC Barcelona royalty, a few names come to mind, but almost none carry as much respect and admiration as former Barcelona midfielder and La Masía produced player, Xavi Hernandez. Xavi’s tenure as Barcelona midfielder and captain saw him win every single trophy imaginable, forming with Andrés Iniesta one of the best midfield duos that the sport of soccer has ever seen. Given his past with the team and his bonafide legendary status in the club, it’s an obvious choice to have him as the top candidate to take over the team, right? Well, yes and no.
On the one hand, it’s a given fact that Xavi’s time will come one day, especially taking into account that Xavi can be taken as an advanced mentee of coaches like Van Gaal, Riikjard, Guardiola, and Villanova to name a few. Xavi knows this team better than anyone else that could come and his return to Barcelona could spark a new awakening for the team. On the other hand, his lack of managerial experience, with his only coaching job being as manager of Qatar squad Al Sadd and his not-so-promising relations with Barcelona president Joan Laporta might end up hurting his chances to replace Koeman.
If there’s one thing for sure is that Xavi deserves to be Barcelona’s manager and hopefully for an extended period. Will he be the man to try and bring the Barca ship back into calm waters though? We’ll have to wait and see.
Now that we’ve spoken of a candidate who Barcelona president Joan Laporta is not a fan of, let’s talk about one that he is a fan of, former Milan and Juventus midfielder and Italian soccer legend Andrea Pirlo. It can easily be considered that what Xavi was to Spanish soccer, Pirlo was to Italian Calcio. Pirlo’s resume as a player reads like a dream career for any soccer player in the world. With Champions League title wins, Serie A Scudettos, and even a World Cup title in 2006, there is a reason why this man is admired by soccer fans around the world without any regard to team fandom. Yet, his coaching career has not started in the same glorious fashion as his former playing career.
After just one season as coach of Juventus, Pirlo ended up getting his walking papers at the end of last season. While it was expected for Pirlo to lead the team to yet another Serie A title, something that had become a usual for the Torino team, as well as for the new coach to lead the team to UCL glory once again, at the end of the season, Juventus were left without another Serie A title, finishing fourth in the qualifiers and being eliminated by Portuguese side Porto in the early knockout stages of the UCL tournament.
While all this could become a great detriment for Pirlo in his hopes of becoming Barcelona’s new manager, Joan Laporta is a big fan of his work and even if he couldn’t succeed in his first season as coach, Pirlo’s stock as manager has not seen any significant drop, meaning that if given the chance, he probably could do some great work with the “Culés”.
Roberto “Bob” Martinez is in great part responsible for Belgium’s Men’s National Soccer Team to become the dominant force that it is. Ever since taking over the reins of the Belgian national squad in 2016, one that can easily be considered the best generation of soccer players in the history of the European country, Martinez and his team have done wonders, including a 3rd place finish in the Russia 2018 World Cup Tournament. Now, even though Belgium holds the number 1 spot in FIFA’s national team ranking, some critics feel like it’s time for Belgium and Martinez to go separate ways, something that could benefit Barcelona greatly.
Martinez, who many times has been heard speaking of the great influence that Johan Cruyff’s managerial style has had in his career would fit right into Barcelona’s soccer ideology and plans, especially given that when one speaks of FC Barcelona, one is almost speaking about Cruyff himself. While Martinez wishes to be able to fulfill his contract with Belgium, it feels like if Barcelona can make the right moves, seeing Bob Martinez as Barca’s next manager is not such a crazy idea.
Under-pressure Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman faces the media amid reports of his imminent sacking, as Barca prepare for a huge game against Atletico Madrid in LaLiga.