La Liga 'lacking star player' after Messi's Barcelona exit
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Barcelona president Joan Laporta is weighing up a move for Manchester City coach Juanma Lillo to replace Ronald Koeman at the Nou Camp, according to reports. Lillo, who arrived at City in the summer of 2020 following Mikel Arteta’s decision to take charge of Arsenal, is said to be one of several names under consideration at Barcelona.
The Catalan giants have endured a difficult start to the season under Koeman, who appears to be living on borrowed time.
He could only lead Barcelona to a third-placed finish last time around, with Atletico Madrid clinching the La Liga title ahead of runners-up Real Madrid.
Koeman has failed to improve things in his second year in charge, with La Blaugrana failing to take maximum points from three of their opening six matches.
Barcelona also suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Benfica in the Champions League on Wednesday evening, a result that looks to have marked the point of no return for the Dutch boss.
Laporta is reportedly determined to replace Koeman as a matter of urgency and has identified Lillo as a potential candidate, according to SB Nation.
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The report claims that the 55-year-old, who currently serves as Pep Guardiola’s assistant, has been ‘talked about’ behind closed doors at Barcelona.
If he ends up taking charge of the La Liga heavyweights, it would mark the second time in three years that a City coach has been snapped up to assume a leading role elsewhere.
Arsenal poached Arteta from the defending Premier League champions back in 2019 after two years of learning his trade under Guardiola.
The Gunners boss has endured a mixed spell at the Emirates Stadium since replacing Unai Emery in the hot seat and winning the FA Cup at the end of his first season at the helm.
It remains to be seen whether Barcelona will take a leaf from Arsenal’s book and raid City for Arteta’s successor in the coming weeks.
It is said that Laporta and his fellow board members have already decided to sack Koeman and will officially do so when a suitable alternative is found.
Meanwhile, a handful of others are said to be in the frame for the vacancy, including River Plate boss Marcelo Gallardo and former Inter Milan head coach Antonio Conte.
Belgium manager Roberto Martinez has also been linked with the job as speculation grows over his future in charge of the Red Devils.
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The latter suggested that he would be open to joining Barcelona earlier this week, insisting that anything can happen at short notice in football.
“I would love [Belgium] to be the first European country to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar,” Martinez told reporters.
“That’s the challenge after the Nations League final, but in football you never know what tomorrow will bring.
“I wake up every morning as Belgium coach until the last day of my contract, but I realise that many circumstances can arise along the way.”
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