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Report: Guardiola’s assistant emerges as possible Barcelona coach

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As per Mundo Deportivo, a surprise candidate has emerged on the radars of Barcelona as a potential option to replace manager Ronald Koeman.

It is no secret at this point that the 58-year-old’s job is hanging by a thread after the disappointing 3-0 loss away at SL Benfica earlier in the week. However, an announcement on the matter is yet to be made as manager Joan Laporta is waiting for the La Liga game against Atletico Madrid to be out of the way.

The report states that irrespective of the outcome against the La Liga champions, Koeman’s fate is sealed and he will be relieved of his duties during the international break. Laporta would have liked to give the Dutchman more time to see how the team does now that Ansu Fati is back and Ousmane Dembele is close to returning.

However, Koeman seems to have lost the faith of the fans and the rest of the board, reaching a point of no return. So, even a win against Atleti will not save his job, the report states.

A surprise replacement candidate emerges

The rumour mill has been going wild with speculations over who could replace Koeman in the Barcelona hotseat. Xavi Hernandez, Roberto Martinez and Andrea Pirlo have been the most strongly linked names so far, while there have also been mentions of Oscar Garcia (Reims) and Marcelo Gallardo (River Plate).

However, the most surprising name on the list of prospective candidates to take over from Koeman at Barcelona is that of Juan Manuel Lillo – the assistant manager of Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.

The 55-year-old started his managerial career in his early 20s and has experience coaching teams in Spain and across the globe. Indeed, he has been the head coach of several Spanish teams including UD Salamanca, Real Sociedad, Real Zaragoza while he has also managed Colombian giants Millonarios FC, Atletico Nacional.

Juanma Lillo had a stint in Mexico with Dorados de Sinaloa, where he managed Guardiola. He has also served as an assistant manager for Sevilla as well as the Chilean national team. The Spaniard has been serving as Guardiola’s assistant at Man City since June last year. Prior to that, his most recent managerial role was with Qingdao Huanghai, whom he led to promotion to the Chinese Super League.

Known for his footballing knowledge and tactical acumen, Lillo is someone that Guardiola considers a mentor. However, he has never held a managerial job at a high-profile club and has not tasted much success in his previous 18 stints as a head coach either.

So, him being linked with the Barcelona job comes off as strange. But, then again, these are strange and uncertain times at Camp Nou. It remains to be seen which way Laporta sways. The only thing that seems certain at this point is Koeman’s impending exit.

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