The joint press conference between Laporta and Xavi, in which they announced the continuity of the Terrassa coach, seemed to silence the noise around who would be the club’s next coach. But Xavi’s statements prior to the match against Almería about the economic situation caused a new hurricane in Can Barça. In fact, as AS learned, last Monday Laporta gave the order to the Sports Commission to look for a coach for the next season.

The continuity of A coach leaves his position, and in recent years the Catalan club has made its formula clear: the coach who takes the reins has usually been a first-team player.

LaLiga EA Sports 2023/2024

*Data updated as of May 18, 2024

Of the 13 coaches that Barça has had in the 21st century, eight of them played in the ranks of the Barça club and seven had participation in the first team. In chronological order: Serra Ferrer, Rexach, Guardiola, Tito Vilanova (Barça Atlètic), Luis Enrique, Ernesto Valverde, Ronald Koeman and Xavi. Of the last eight who have sat on the bench, only ‘Tata’ Martino and Quique Setién were not part of the club as footballers. The idiosyncrasy of the club pushes the board to choose people who know it from within and are committed to La Masia and a marked style of play, aspects that have characterized Barça since its creation. All this was personified in the figure of Xavi, who two and a half seasons later has not completely met expectations.

The name dance began on January 27, when Xavi announced his departure at the end of the current campaign. Names like Flick, Roberto De Zerbi, Thiago Motta and Arteta were on that shortlist, although the latter has never been a real option. Motta, who has returned Bologna to the Champions League 60 years later, complies with the formula that Barça usually applies. The Italian-Brazilian played for eight seasons for the Barça club and at Bologna his qualities as a coach are demonstrated, as he has squeezed a squad whose objective was far from playing in the top European competition. As of today, it does not seem that his future is in Barcelona but in Turin, since Juventus is advancing his signing after Allegri’s dismissal.

Mikel Arteta, the coach who has restored enthusiasm to Arsenal and is building a winning project, timidly sounded like he could take over from Xavi. As a footballer he trained in Antiguoko, a team from San Sebastián, and then arrived at La Masia, where he spent three seasons until reaching the first team. And as a coach he could not have had a better teacher: Pep Guardiola. The San Sebastian native grew up alongside Guardiola at Manchester City and later arrived at Arsenal, where he is fighting head-to-head for titles against the one he mentored. His contract with the Gunners ends in 2025, at which time a small window would open for Barça, but according to the latest information, Arsenal will propose a new renewal offer to the Spanish coach when the season ends.

The ‘Xavi’ formula, hiring a former footballer from the club without a proven resume in the elite, could be repeated in the future with Cesc Fàbregas. The Barcelona native is the sporting architect of Como, a team that has been promoted directly to Serie A. Fàbregas has weight in sporting decisions and managed the team in five games thanks to a derogation (he still did not have a title), winning three victories, a draw and a defeat. In an interview for the Tot Costa program on Catalunya Ràdio, the world champion did not close the door on coaching Barça in the future: “It is something that you can never know, but first I must grow, take steps…”

In addition to following this pattern to choose a coach, there is an interesting fact about the Barça bench: the two most successful coaches in its recent history (Guardiola and Luis Enrique) led the Barça reserve team before making the leap to the elite. In the case of Guardiola he only stayed for one season, because the club believed that he was already prepared to coach the first team. Luis Enrique spent three seasons at Barça Atlètic and went through Roma and Celta before returning to Barcelona, ​​where he won the treble.

The Rafa Márquez option is still on the horizon and seems coherent if we look at the Barça club’s precedents. The Mexican is a former Barça player and is currently coaching Barça Atlètic, which will play in the playoff to be promoted to the Second Division and is reaching a high level of play. Furthermore, Márquez is giving a lot of prominence to La Masia and players like Marc Bernal (16 years old), Marc Guiu (18 years old) or Guille Fernández (15 years old) are being important.

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After years of institutional and economic instability, which has ended up having repercussions on the sporting side, Barça will have to get it right in choosing the next coach. Today, Xavi’s continuity beyond 2025 seems like a chimera, but these last few months invite us to think that anything can happen.

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2024-05-19 13:17:29
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