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Who could replace Ronald Koeman at Barcelona?

The Dutchman is reportedly on the brink

FC Barcelona v Bayern München: Group E - UEFA Champions League Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

If recent reports are to be believed, then Ronald Koeman is on borrowed time as manager of Barcelona.

It isn’t necessarily the results that have seen him with one foot out of the exit door either, although the manner of the performance against Bayern Munich was risible.

The Dutchman has always been an outspoken character, but he may have bitten off more than he can chew after publicly taking president, Joan Laporta, to task. Again.

That has seemingly been the final straw for some members of the board who have, apparently, urged Laporta to wield the axe as soon as possible.

Given Barca’s financial situation that may be easier said than done, however, it’s certainly a possibility.

So who would replace him...?

Erik ten Hag

UEFA Champions League”Sporting CP v Ajax Amsterdam” Photo by ANP Sport via Getty Images

Surely the most sensible option, but arguably the most difficult.

Ten Hag’s Ajax side have gone though incredible changes since the Eredivisie outfit took Real Madrid apart at the Santiago Bernabeu in the Champions League.

Frenkie de Jong joined Barca, Matthijs de Ligt went to Juve whilst Donny van de Beek moved to Manchester United and Hakim Ziyech to Chelsea.

And yet Ten Hag still has a competitive, attack-minded side, that play football on the front foot and with intensity.

His tactical nous, in-game intelligence and formational know-how are second to none too.

He is precisely what Barca need, but can they afford him?

Xavi

‘Campus Xavi Hernández by Santander’ Presentation In Barcelona Photo by Miquel Benitez/Getty Images

The big name, but the right one?

No one wants Xavi’s legend to be tarnished, and to expect him to come riding back into town and ‘do a Guardiola’ just isn’t going to happen.

Pep was incredibly lucky that everything fell into place as it did in 2008/09 but lightning doesn’t strike twice.

Xavi doesn’t have a magic wand.

Remember the time that many wanted Koeman in charge because, for some reason, being a member of the Dream Team qualified him for the position.

That went well didn’t it.

The same fate cannot befall the best midfielder the club has ever had.

Roberto Martinez

Belgium v Czech Republic - 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Photo by Vincent Van Doornick/Isosport/MB Media/Getty Images

Hmmmm....

Roberto Martinez comes highly recommended by those in the game, but the parallels to Koeman are significant.

Reasonably good at international level with a decent group of players, poor at club level for long periods, particularly at Everton where both failed to leave their mark.

A steady, ‘safe pair of hands,’ that some might suggest is too like Ernesto Valverde was when he took the reins. A ‘vanilla’ choice if you prefer.

As ESPN note, Jordi Cruyff, who is credited with calming things down between Laporta and Koeman, would like to see Martinez in situ.

Mikel Arteta

Arsenal Training Session Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

An unlikely hire given how poorly his Arsenal side have fared over the past 12 months, but Arteta, should he become a free agent, represents another option for Joan Laporta and his board.

He now has the benefit of the experience of the harsh realities of management at a demanding club, he knows the ethos of Barcelona and has knowledge of La Liga.

At a time when there’s a cost saving to be had into the bargain, is the Spaniard really that bad a choice given the options available to the board?

Antonio Conte

FC Internazionale Milano v Udinese Calcio - Serie A Photo by Sportinfoto/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Whether Antonio Conte would be the right sort of fit for the Catalans is a moot point.

He has the passion and drive to motivate even the biggest names. Witness his effect on Romelu Lukaku by way of example.

The issue with the Italian is him seemingly always wanting a war chest of cash in order to buy the best players, and to be in control of every aspect of the job.

At present, that just isn’t an option.