An interesting shortlist...

Ranked: The 7 stand-out candidates to replace Xavi as Barcelona manager

Xavi will leave his post as Barcelona manager at the end of the 2023-24 season, leaving La Blaugrana scrambling for a replacement less than three years on from his appointment.

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind since the club legend returned in late 2021 to replace Ronald Koeman, winning La Liga in his first full season in charge and rebuilding Barcelona amid financial difficulties by blending the best of their youth talent with a few flashy signings.

That doesn’t tell the entire story, however, with a dismal title defence in 2023-24 following on from a poor European campaign in 2022-23 and a string of questionable results piling pressure on the Spaniard, who decided himself in January 2024 that he would leave at the end of the season.

Strangely, there has been an upturn in performances and results since then with Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-final for the first time since 2019-20, prompting president Joan Laporta to try and convince Xavi to stay.

Barcelona’s board are still trying to convince the Spaniard to reverse his decision in a bid to avoid spending more money they don’t have on a flashy new manager, but will more than likely need to find a replacement.

With several huge names linked, we’ve ranked the realistic candidates from least to most likely to take the job.

7. Luis Enrique

Reports are surfacing that state Barcelona could try and tempt Luis Enrique back to Camp Nou, a decade on from when he won the treble with the club.

However, he only took over at Paris Saint-Germain this season and has a contract through to 2025, which he is likely to honour.

Even if he didn’t, Barcelona would be looking at some hefty compensation and a big wage package for their former boss, no matter how much he might love the club and want to return.

Not happening.

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6. Ruben Amorim

Now that Xabi Alonso is off the market until 2025 at the earliest, Amorim is perhaps the most in-demand manager heading into the summer. Immediately, that hinders Barcelona should they have wanted to make an official approach.

Similarly to Enrique, Amorim is going to cost a fair sum of money when factoring in compensation for Sporting CP and that’s before discussing wages, which will be driven up by interest from another club *cough* Liverpool *cough*.

It’s highly unlikely, but not impossible. After all, this is Barcelona and that will tempt any football-loving manager, no matter how chaotic they are these days.

5. Roberto De Zerbi

If Barcelona want De Zerbi, they will land him. And we’re convinced it’d create beautiful, glorious chaos. The issue? You guessed it – money.

Not even La Blaugrana could find and trigger enough economic levers to offset the cost of compensation Brighton would demand to release De Zerbi from his contract.

And even if they did manage it, who’s to say it’d work? It would be by far and away the biggest job of his career and for as good as Brighton can be, they’re not without their faults. A huge risk/reward factor to weigh up.

4. Simone Inzaghi

Inzaghi is doing incredible things with Inter. After winning two Coppa Italia and reaching the Champions League final, he’s finally on course to win the Scudetto with the Nerazzurri after taking over in 2021.

The best part is, that he’s done it on a limited budget and has them playing some of the best football in Europe.

It would require an uncharacteristic shift from a back four to a back three and there would be question marks as to whether Inzaghi could adapt to Spain and the pressure of Barcelona, but we don’t doubt that he’d jump at the chance to test himself at yet another iconic club.

The issue? Prizing him away from Inter. He’d push for it, but it’d cost a lot.

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3. Julian Nagelsmann

Interestingly, Barcelona wouldn’t actually have to fork out as much money if they wanted to go and appoint Nagelsmann, whose contract with the Germany national team is up after EURO 2024.

He’s a big name with an astute tactical understanding, brilliant patterns of football and proof of being able to build a team. There is little doubt that he’d have a field day working with some of La Blaugrana’s fine young talent, but it’s whether or not they could convince the German to take on such a high-pressure job.

Nagelsmann also wouldn’t be able to link up with the club until after Germany’s Euros campaign is over, which could complicate things. It doesn’t feel too unrealistic, though.

2. Rafa Marquez

In our humble opinion, if Barcelona wanted to make the most sensible appointment for the club right now, promoting Marquez from Barcelona Atletic would be the move we’d make.

However, he comes in at number two here, purely because we feel like they’ll prioritise an established manager before falling back on promoting the lesser-known choice.

That’s not to discredit Marquez, though, who has worked wonders since being appointed Barcelona B manager in 2022. This season, he’s carved out unbeaten runs and built a well-coached squad with an incredibly young average age, while also providing youth talents ready-made for the first-team.

He’s unproven at the top level, but he’d no doubt have a close rapport with players, an understanding of the club’s intricacies as a former player and current employee, would be cost-effective and have more backing from the owners.

1. Hansi Flick

Marquez would be a romantic pick, but Flick is without a job, has guided Bayern Munich to a treble and has a proven record of playing brilliant, entertaining football.

His work with the German national team is a blemish, but being one of only two managers to win a sextuple of trophies and having guided Bayern to the treble, to disregard those achievements a fluke would be genuine insanity.

Flick is on the market, keen to get back into work, has experience in turning around the ship at a huge club and plays an exciting brand of football. Barcelona really should be pushing for him if Xavi wishes to leave.