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February 24, 2024
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Xavi to leave Barcelona: Who could be next manager?

Another day, another managerial vacancy at one of Europe’s biggest clubs.

After Jurgen Klopp’s shock decision to quit Liverpool at the end of the season, Barcelona boss Xavi followed suit over the weekend by announcing he would also leave his post in the summer.

While Klopp will be leaving the Reds in good shape, whoever takes over at Barca will know they have a rebuilding job on their hands – amid financial pressures.

Barcelona are fourth in La Liga, 11 points behind leaders Girona, and off the field are attempting to work around huge debts.

They do have a host of talented youngsters, though, and the role of Barcelona manager is one that will appeal to many no matter what the challenges are.

Here we take a look at some of the potential contenders – including the bookmakers’ early favourite – in alphabetical order.

Mikel Arteta

Arteta’s name was trending on social media on Sunday when a report on a Spanish website claimed he was top of Barcelona’s shortlist and open to leaving Arsenal in the summer.

He remains the bookmakers’ favourite, but BBC Sport columnist Guillem Balague said on Sunday: “Arsenal fans can relax.”

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, he added Arteta had “no intention” of leaving and was “building something special”.

Former Barcelona youth player Arteta is a hugely popular figure at Emirates Stadium, having guided the Gunners back into the Champions League and Premier League title contention since taking charge in 2019.

The 41-year-old is contracted to Arsenal until 2025 and the club remain confident he will stay.

Antonio Conte

A free agent who has inevitably been linked with the job having enjoyed considerable success at clubs including Juventus, Inter Milan and Chelsea.

His recent spell in charge at Tottenham was less successful, though, and he has been out of work since March 2023.

The 54-year-old Italian has historically worked best with financial backing, though, and a move to Barcelona doesn’t seem the most natural of fits.

Roberto de Zerbi

Already mentioned as a possible successor to Klopp at Liverpool, Brighton boss Roberto de Zerbi would seem to be the most likely Premier League manager to replace Xavi.

The 44-year-old Italian has impressed with his tactical versatility and guided Brighton to sixth place last year, leading the club into Europe for the first time.

Luis Enrique

Now manager of Paris St-Germain, the 53-year-old was previously Spain boss.

Having guided his country to the Euro 2020 semi-finals, he left the post after they were knocked out of the 2022 World Cup at the last-16 stage by Morocco.

His most successful period as manager at club level came with Barcelona. Between 2014 and 2017 he won the Champions League and guided them to two La Liga titles, three Copas del Rey, the Super Cup, the Club World Cup and Spanish Super Cup.

Could a return be on the cards?

Marcelo Gallardo

The 48-year-old Argentine built his reputation at River Plate in Argentina, where he helped developed Premier League players Enzo Fernandez and Julian Alvarez before stepping down in December 2022.

Many expected him to move into a big managerial job in Europe but, after almost a year out of the game, he became Al-Ittihad manager in November.

Could a move to Barcelona provide that big opportunity in Europe?


Rafael Marquez

The 44-year-old former Mexico international knows Barcelona inside out, having made more than 150 appearances for the first team before managing their B side.

Many of the youngsters now in the first team were developed by Marquez, and he would provide real continuity after Xavi’s departure.

But a lack of managerial experience at the top level could make this a gamble.


Michel’s Girona have been the story of the season in European football.

The 48-year-old Spaniard guided them to promotion to La Liga and, in their first season back, to the top of the table.

Prior to that, he managed Rayo Vallecano – leading them to the top division – and also had a stint with Huesca.

Jose Mourinho

Recently out of work after being sacked by Roma, Mourinho’s history with Real Madrid may count against him.

Only two managers – Enrique Fernandez and Radomir Antic – have managed both Real and Barcelona, but that hasn’t stopped Mourinho figuring prominently in the betting markets.

His track record as a manager is there for all to see and he was at Barcelona from 1996-2000, working under Sir Bobby Robson and Louis van Gaal.

The 60-year-old Portuguese did say in 2012 that he “could never coach Barcelona” after ending their Champions League hopes while in charge of Inter Milan, shortly before becoming Real boss.


Thiago Motta

The former Barcelona midfielder has impressed as a manager this season, with his Bologna side fighting for a European spot in Serie A.

The 41-year-old Brazilian is lacking in managerial experience, though, having previously had short spells at Genoa and Spezia.



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