Barcelona’s elections are eight months away but already names like Jurgen Klopp, Xavi and Pep Guardiola have been mentioned as potential candidates’ picks as new coach.
Sportsmail looks at the pretenders to the Nou Camp throne and which manager they are promising to bring with them – despite Ronald Koeman only being appointed as Quique Setien’s replacement last week.
There is some doubt over who this will be. It was going to be Emili Rousaud but he resigned and then insinuated corruption at the club leading to a major legal wrangle, so probably not the man for the job anymore!
Oriol Tomas or Xavier Vilajoana could fill the void but neither has much of a profile right now. Vilajoana was at the club’s youth academy as a young boy and his father was a director under former president Jose Luis Nunez.
Tomas is the club’s commercial vice-president charged with finding the new partners to bring money in. His job is more important now than ever and could catapult him into the front line.
Ronald Koeman will stay if the continuity candidate wins. And for that to be a viable option, Barcelona will have to be in pretty good shape on the pitch come March when elections are due.
Not great. It would take an amazing turnaround for anyone associated with the current board to win the next election.
Victor Font was the first to officially confirm he will run. He seems to have all the big guns riding with him.
Xavi Hernandez seems to be his coach in waiting. That’s why, when the current board sacked Ernesto Valverde in January, they tried to get Xavi. It’s also why he turned down the job offer.
Carles Puyol is a possible director of football and if that dream team is not enough to whet the Barca fans’ appetites, Andres Iniesta has also hinted he could be involved at some point, although he has no immediate plans to cut short his playing career in Japan.
It’s the Xavi-Puyol dream team as coach and director of football.
If Font does get both those two huge names on board then he will be hard to beat.
Joan Laporta won two Champions Leagues under two different coaches when he led the club from 2003 to 2010.
He has the charisma and the leadership pedigree. And he has already sloganised his campaign in brilliant fashion: ‘Barcelona is now the club of the €3billion,’ he says –’€1b in revenue; €1b in expenditure, and €1b in debt.’
As of yet there are no big hitters in the background throwing their weight behind Laporta but he will have few problems finding them when the time comes. He may also have a big ally in Lionel Messi.
He was president when Messi first emerged and oversaw enough of his salary increases to have an excellent relationship with him and his father Jorge.
No one named yet. Laporta has already said that his preference would be the return of Pep Guardiola, although he admitted it would be the former coach’s personal decision.
Right now Guardiola looks like an impossible option but who knows how the football landscape will look in eight months.
Laporta would also have no problem choosing Xavi. And there is no reason why Xavi could not be the chosen coach of more than one candidate.
Messi could be key. If Messi says I’ll sign a new deal with Laporta, then the former president could return.
Jordi Farre says the present regime has destroyed La Masia, Barcelona’s talent conveyor belt academy. And he says that the club’s debt makes the 800m euros Espai Barca scheme to redevelop the ground a crazy idea.
He is a new voice and may appeal to members tired of the same old faces. In 2015 he was a pre-candidate but failed to collect enough signatures to stand. He says he has learned from falling short.
His Jurgen Klopp comment has certainly made the news, although persuading Klopp to effectively confirm, come next March, that he’s willing to leave Liverpool at the end of the season if Farre wins, seems like a tall order.
‘If Koeman works than he will continue of course,’ Farre has also said.
It will be interesting to hear what Klopp has to say about these conversations he has had with Farre. In the meantime, Koeman staying if he is doing OK seems to be the more credible message.
It will be hard to topple Font and Laporta.
Another new pre-candidate is Lluis Fernandez Ala, who also needs to get past that all-important stage of collecting enough signatures (around 2,500) to be allowed to stand.
Like Farre, he has condemned the current management of the club’s youth academy. He says: ‘La Masia now seems like a hotel.’
In-keeping with his emphasis on the youth system he wants current youth-team coach Francisco Javier Garcia Pimienta to be his coach. ‘We are convinced that ‘Pimi’ could be the new Pep Guardiola of Barca,’ he said.
The highly-rated Pimienta, who currently coaches the B-team and might have got them promoted had he not been denied the services of star players Ansu Fati and Riqui Puig.
Again it’s hard to look beyond Font and Laporta.