Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde recently revealed to Barca TV that he is unsure of whether he will be undertaking a coaching role next season. The Spaniard’s contract with the Catalan club expires in the summer of 2019, but a clause in the contract states that it could be extended by one more year if the parties involved agree.
Managing one of the best clubs in the world is demanding and the expectations are incredibly high. Barcelona won a domestic double in Valverde’s first year at the club and only a treble can top that.
These are some of the candidates who could replace the 54-year-old, should he part ways with the Spanish giants.
Current club: Real Betis
Why Setien: The self-confessed Cruijffista will be the perfect replacement for Valverde at Barcelona. Setien has implemented the ‘Total Football’ system at Real Betis and impressed fans throughout Europe with his exciting brand of football. This blends well with the Barcelona philosophy and the attributes of the players suits such a system.
Why not Setien: The fact that the Spaniard has not coached a top European club until now could work against him. Valverde had not coached a top European club before he took over at Barcelona but he had a history with the club, having played under Johan Cruyff.
Current club: None
Why Conte: The Italian has an impressive track record at the top level in club and international football. Conte won the Premier League in the 2016/17 season and revolutionised the concept of a three-man defence in the process.
Why not Conte: The fact that the Italian could not maintain the dressing room at Chelsea was a contributing factor to why he was ousted. He might have to deal with bigger egos at Barcelona and the ride might not be smooth.
Current club: Valencia
Why Marcelino: The Valencia boss knows the league well and has prior experience managing clubs like Sevilla and Villarreal. Marcelino also led Valencia to a fourth-place finish last season.
Why not Marcelino: Valencia’s recent results from this season make a case for why the Spaniard might not be the best option. A step up from a struggling Valencia to a Barcelona – who by the end of the season could have won the league – would be extremely challenging.
Current club: Player, Al Sadd
Why Xavi: A legend at Barcelona, the player knows the club inside out. Xavi never hesitated mentioning his desire to coach the club someday. The 38-year-old will be most likely implement Pep Guardiola’s system, or a variation. This is a proven mantra and the chances that he will taste success is high.
Why not Xavi: Too soon. The La Masia graduate has had no coaching experience whatsoever. He would be better off gaining some experience before accepting this massive responsibility.
Current club: Barcelona B
Why Pimienta: The Barcelona B coach knows the youngsters very well and their transition from the B team to the first squad could be smooth. Pimienta could be a great long-term option. Again, the Spaniard’s philosophy is in line with that of the club.
Why not Pimienta: The 44-year-old might not be a great short-term option, mainly due to the fact that he has no experience of coaching a team in the first division. That being said, Barcelona did take the risk with Pep Guardiola a decade ago and that turned out pretty well.
The 54-year-old did a domestic double in his first season, winning La Liga and Copa Del Rey. Halfway through his second season, Barcelona are on top of the La Liga table and through to the last 16 of Copa Del Rey and Champions League.
“Next season? I do not know my future or what I will be doing at that stage,” Valverde told Barcelona TV.
“In football you never know what will happen, things are fluid and you can never allow yourself to think in the long term.
“When you are in this business, two months is a very long time. Thoughts and feelings change on individual results – if you win things are great, if you lose everyone is sad and talking about you.
“I want everyone to be happy with my work and the work of my staff and my players, but in football there are no guarantees.
“If we do not meet our objectives – domestically and in Europe – people will look at the coach, it is the way things are.”
Genoa president Enrico Preziosi insists “no-one will move until June” – and that includes Barcelona target Krzysztof Piatek.
Piatek has made a name for himself thanks to his incredible scoring spree since joining Genoa in the summer from Cracovia. The Polish international has scored 13 goals in Serie A this season and only Cristiano Ronaldo has scored more.
With age very much on his side, it has not taken long for the 23-year-old to be linked to a host of top European clubs including Barcelona. Juventus, Napoli and Chelsea have also popped up as potential suitors.
However, Genoa chief Preziosi has moved to shut the January transfer rumours down.
“No-one will move until June,” Preziosi told Il Secolo XIX.
“We need [Christian] Kouame, Piątek and [Gaston] Ramirez. So far there’s been a lot of talk, but no offers have arrived.”
Preziosi also spoke about potential incoming transfers.
“We need a pair of quality players in midfield, and we’ve made an offer for Rade Krunic,” he added.
“Stefano Sturaro is an idea we have and I’m convinced he could come. He’ll cost us a bit, but he’s an investment.”
“He won’t be ready for a month or two, because he’s got a problem with his achilles, but he wants to re-launch with us.”