Next Barcelona manager odds: Xavi favourite, Roberto Martinez and Andrea Pirlo linked with job after Ronald Koeman exit

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 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Xavi is the hot favourite to succeed Ronald Koeman as Barcelona manager in what would be an emotional return to the Nou Camp.

After a turbulent 14 months in charge, Koeman was sacked on Wednesday night following a 1-0 defeat at Rayo Vallecano that left Barca ninth in La Liga, six points behind leaders Real Madrid who beat them 2-1 on Sunday.

Xavi left Barcelona in 2015 after being a key part of the club’s golden era, helping them to win La Liga eight times and the Champions League on four occasions.

The 41-year-old ended his playing career with Qatari club Al Sadd and then became their manager in 2019, and has already led them to seven trophies, including the league last season.

Xavi has long been earmarked as future manager of Barcelona and it seems his time may be about to come with reports in Spain last night making him the favourite.

One of his players at Al Sadd is Santi Carzola and the former Arsenal midfielder told Marca this week of how ingrained Barcelona are in Xavi’s methods.

Carzola said: “He wants the ball and we train based on rondos, possession, position play…pure Barca school, to defend with the ball.

“I think that he understands football that way and he practices it. It’s not unique, but perhaps, in having the ball, Xavi is unique.

“At La Roja, when we were team-mates, he always had that philosophy of football. It was very clear.”

The closest candidate to Xavi according to the bookmakers is Roberto Martinez. The 48-year-old Spaniard is under contract with Belgium until the end of next year’s World Cup in Qatar but has been linked with a return to club management after five years on the international scene.

Andrea Pirlo is joint third on the bookmakers’ list despite lasting just one season as manager of Juventus.

Although the former Italy midfielder did win the Coppa Italia, Juve only scraped into fourth place and a Champions League spot on the final day of the season. It was the first time Juventus had not won Serie A in 10 years.

River Plate manager Marcelo Gallardo is said to be a particular favourite of Barca president Joan Laporta. The 45-year-old has won 12 trophies in Argentina and favours a modern style of football.

Next Barcelona manager odds

Xavi 1/5

Roberto Martinez 10/1

Andrea Pirlo 16/1

Marcelo Gallardo 16/1

Brendan Rodgers 20/1

Erik ten Hag 20/1

Sergi Barjuan 20/1

Odds via SkyBet

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