Barcelona activated their coaching search once Xavi Hernández publicly announced that he would not continue beyond 30 June.
The sporting director, Deco, recently claimed he had not made any moves to appoint a successor as they still do not know how the club will be in terms of fair play and, he still cannot give any coach a guarantee about the margin and spending power they might have in the summer.
But several names are already being discussed within the club, with the idea being that the coach who comes in will have to adapt to the current reality of Barcelona, which is restrictive in terms of the salary margin for signings.
Barça are looking for a coach who has a great capacity for work, a strong personality, an eminently offensive style, who improves the performance of his players, and if he prefers the 4-3-3 formation then even better.
To that end, Mundo Deportivo is reporting that the following six names are in contention to likely replace Xavi at the end of the season.
Luis Enrique (PSG)
When asked about the possibility of replacing Xavi at Barcelona, Luis Enrique opted not to respond, but his name continues to be linked with a return to Catalonia. He is a coach who is very appealing because he is a Barça icon, won a treble as a manager in 2015, and guarantees attacking play, physical intensity, and maximum demand.
The problem is that he has a contract with Paris Saint-Germain until 2025 and Luis Enrique usually honours his commitments.
Mikel Arteta (Arsenal)
Mikel Arteta is very much liked at Barcelona for his attacking style, his taste for combination football, and his competitive nature. Another factor working in his favour is that he knows perfectly well what the Barça DNA is, given he was trained at La Masia.
The downside is that Arteta is contracted with Arsenal until 2025 and has a good relationship with the club. And recently, he ruled out leaving the club in the summer.
Roberto De Zerbi (Brighton)
The Brighton & Hove Albion boss is seen as one of the best young managers in the game currently and has even received the endorsement of Pep Guardiola, who holds a lot of sway among the Culers.
The work he has done at Brighton and the brand of football his team plays make him an attractive prospect for Barça. However, the lack of experience at a top club and working with big players might be counted against him.
Xabi Alonso (Bayer Leverkusen)
A Real Madrid and Liverpool legend, Alonso is working his magic as the manager of Bayer Leverkusen, who are yet to lose a single game this season and are topping the Bundesliga table. The Spaniard has built an enterprising, youthful team playing a vertical, attacking brand football.
However, his history with Real Madrid could become a hurdle while Alonso is also being tipped to replace Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool.
Hansi Flick (unattached)
The former Bayern Munich manager is unattached since last September when he was relieved of his duties as the head coach of the German national team. He is one of the preferred candidates of Barça president Joan Laporta, who is attracted to the German school of coaching.
While he enjoyed a scintillating spell at Bayern Munich, Flick’s stint with Germany did not go down too well. It is something that may be held against him.
Unai Emery (Aston Villa)
Unai Emery is highly regarded in Europe for his intense, competitive, and dynamic football. His Aston Villa side are fourth in the Premier League and have beaten the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal.
Emery has experience in Spain, having worked with the likes of Sevilla, Valencia, and Villarreal. He has also worked at top clubs like PSG and Arsenal. But his contract with Villa runs until 2027.
Jurgen Klopp is rated highly at Barcelona, but is seen as an unlikely option as he is set for a sabbatical when he leaves Liverpool in the summer. Meanwhile, the likes of Michel, Imanol Alguacil, and Sergio Conceicao are no longer seen as top contenders.