5 candidates Barcelona could appoint after Ronald Koeman axe with Xavi favourite

Barcelona finally axed Ronald Koeman following another miserable display at Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday evening.

The 58-year-old was already under intense scrutiny following a third successive loss in El Clasico.

And Radamel Falcao's first-half goal condemned the Catalan giants to three defeats in their last four league matches with Koeman sacked in the immediate aftermath of the result.

A club statement confirmed his departure following the full-time whistle in Madrid.

It reads: "FC Barcelona has relieved Ronald Koeman of his duties as first team coach.

"The president of the club, Joan Laporta, informed him of the decision after the defeat against Rayo Vallecano. Ronald Koeman will say goodbye to the squad on Thursday at the Ciutat Esportiva.

"FC Barcelona wishes to thank him for his service to the Club and wishes him all the best in his professional career."

Daily Star Sport identifies who could replace Koeman in the Camp Nou dugout.

Xavi

It seems inevitable that Xavi will eventually take the reins at the Camp Nou and the former midfield maestro is the clear favourite to take over from Ronald Koeman.

Having won eight La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues as well as several other honours during his playing days with Barcelona, the Spaniard left in 2015 for Qatari club Al-Sadd.

Who do you think should replace Ronald Koeman at Barcelona? Let us know in the comments section.

He was appointed manager in 2019, leading Al-Sadd to the league title whilst remaining unbeaten.

Transfer guru Fabrizio Romano alleges talks have already been held about Xavi succeeding Koeman in Catalonia.

Andrea Pirlo

Clubless after being sacked by Juventus at the end of last season, attention could turn to Pirlo due to Barcelona's worrying financial situation.

The La Liga side had to sell star man Lionel Messi to PSG in the summer as they couldn't afford to register him for the new campaign.

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With money worries still ongoing Pirlo has been identified as a cheaper alternative to replace Koeman with Club President Joan Laporta a big admirer of the 42-year-old.

The stylish Italian has been earmarked as a potential successor due to his possession-based football having highlighted Barca legend Johan Cruyff as an inspiration.

Roberto Martinez

Having failed to guide Belgium's 'golden generation' to silverware, Martinez may be looking for a route back into club management, with Jordi Cruyff a close, personal friend.

Cruyff Jr was announced as Sporting Advisor at the Camp Nou back in June and is mainly tasked with being Laporta's right-hand man on all footballing affairs.

The former Everton boss is yet to manage in his native Spain and is second favourite for the job, behind Xavi, according to the bookies.

A two-year contract extension was penned by Martinez last season though and Belgium are keen for the 48-year-old to remain as manager until after the World Cup.

Marcelo Gallardo

Could replacing one Argentine with another be the key to success in Catalonia?

As River Plate boss, Gallardo has been a roaring success. Two Copa Libertadores titles stands out amongst an impressive list of honours at Los Millonarios

The 45-year-old's current deal expires at the end of this calendar year, but Gallardo has already stated his intention to honour the contract and is in talks over extending his stay at the club.

With Barcelona set on a swift appointment, a deal for the Argentine seems unlikely at this stage.

Erik ten Hag

Having done a stellar with Ajax, ten Hag has often been touted with a move away from Amsterdam but has always stated his intention to stay.

The 51-year-old has claimed two Eredivisie titles during his spell with the club whilst taking de Godenzonen to their first Champions League semi-final in over 20 years.

The Ajax boss is said to have been endorsed for the Barca job by Pep Guardiola according to El Nacional, via metro.

Yet the Dutchman was quick to rebuke the claims when asked about the Barcelona job.

"What do I have to do with all that? I am busy with Ajax," Ten Hag told ESPN.

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