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Who are the likely candidates to replace Quique Setién as Barcelona head coach?

Barcelona’s potential contenders to become the new head coach/ Photo montage by Blaugranagram

The Cantabrian is expected to depart the Camp Nou ahead of next season, following a dismal campaign since replacing Ernesto Valverde at the Barça helm.

Setién, 61, took over Valverde’s reins as FC Barcelona head coach back in January but has failed to win over the fans and the playing staff at the Catalan giants.

Barça chief Josep Maria Bartomeu has a decision to make ahead of the new campaign, after Lionel Messi’s previous comments laid bare the divide between player and coach following the 2-1 shock home defeat to Osasuna which handed Real Madrid the La Liga title.

“Real Madrid did their job – they haven’t lost since the restart and you have to give them credit for that. But we helped them to win the league. We have to take a look at ourselves, starting with the players”, Messi told reporters in his post-match press conference after the Osasuna defeat, which meant Los Blancos got their hands on the domestic prize.

So who could be drafted in ahead of the new season? Here are five options Barça could consider…

Patrick Kluivert

BARCELONA, SPAIN – APRIL 06: Lionel Messi of Barcelona is presented with the La Liga player of the month award by Patrick Kluivert prior to the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Club Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou on April 06, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

A man who knows the club inside The current director of the La Masia academy has been heavily linked with the Camp Nou hot seat. 

The 44-year-old has only had managerial stints with the likes of the FC Twente youth set-up, Curaçao national team and a coach with the Netherlands, so it would be a huge gamble for someone with such inexperience on the touchline to take over.

Having netted 122 goals in 256 games for the Catalan giants, Mundo Deportivo claims the players want the Dutchman as their new head coach before the start of the new season. But it remains to be seen whether Bartomeu would want Kluivert in place.

Mauricio Pochettino

Pochettino, 48, is believed to be high on the radar of the club according to Marca, and the former Espanyol boss is yet to decide where he will be ahead of next season.

The Argentinian has been away from the game having left Tottenham at the end of last year and would bring stability back to Barça in what is going to be a crucial period for the club.

Newcastle United, Benfica and Juventus have all been mooted as potential destinations, but Pochettino could well relish the opportunity to manage the likes of Messi and get the best of Philippe Coutinho, the former Liverpool playmaker, who he knows well from his time in Barcelona with Espanyol. 

Marcello Gallardo

Another candidate is River Plate manager Gallardo, who remains a key contender, having previously emerged as a favourite to replace Ernesto Valverde before Setién took over.

The 44-year-old, who won six league titles and the Copa Libertadores as a River player, took over in 2014 and has led them to 10 trophies, including a pair of Libertadores triumphs, the last which came in a 5-3 aggregate victory over arch-rivals Boca Juniors, in a final second leg that was moved to the Santiago Bernabeu.

His favoured 4-3-1-2 formation has not only helped River in the long run, but his tendency to change up formations mid-game has ultimately become a key factor in many of their victories.

Barça have experimented with direct recruitment from South America in the past, bringing in World Cup-winning coach César Luis Menotti in 1983 and Gerardo Martino 30 years later. Interestingly, none of them lasted beyond a season at the Camp Nou – therefore suggesting the board could turn their attentions elsewhere.


The 40-year-old, who is currently in charge of Qatari side Al Sadd, is self-isolating having recently been diagnosed with Covid-19. It is believed the Catalan would be keen on returning to manage his former employers in the future. Xavi would want full control over transfers and decisions made at the club should he be tempted to make the switch back to his homeland.

“The biggest hope I have now is to be Barca coach and get Barca back to winning ways,” Xavi, who has led Al-Sadd to Qatari Super Cup and Qatar Cup silverware, said via Sport.

“Not me but these players and Barça triumphing. And as a consequence, our technical staff, who are preparing for it a lot and it makes us excited.”

Xavi, who won 25 trophies during his playing career with Barça, continued: “I’m a club man. I would like to return at the right moment to start a project from zero. I’ve said it a lot of times but I want to make footballing decisions at Barcelona.

“It’s clear that after the elections the stage would be set, of course. I’m not ruling anything out. They came for me in January, we were speaking. I told them the circumstances and timing weren’t right.”

Clearly a fan and player favourite, but wanting such major control may go against him.

García Pimienta

BARCELONA, SPAIN – APRIL 08: Coach of Barça B Javier Garcia Pimienta poses for a portrait on April 08, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Xavi Torrent/Getty Images for The Times )

The Barça B manager will remain in his current position until June next year with an option of an additional season. 

Having come through the ranks as a youth player from 1986 at the club, Pimienta was part of the ‘Quinta del Mini’ generation along with the likes of De la Peña, Celades, Quique Álvarez, Roger, Juan Carlos Moreno and Toni Velamazán. 

Since 2001, he has coached youth teams at the club, from U16A through to Barça B. He has been a revelation having led his side to victory over Badajoz, in Algeciras on penalties most recently, with his team now just 90 minutes away from promotion to the Segunda Division. 

He is a bold option and should his side advance to the Segunda, it could well pave the way for him to take the next step up and would certainly give the board plenty to think about.