An era which once promised so much at Barcelona has reached its epilogue.
Xavi Hernandez, the once marvellous midfielder who functioned as the beating heart of Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering Catalans, revealed in January that his tenure as Barca coach will draw to a premature close at the end of the 2023/24 season.
The current campaign has been one of indifference for Spain’s reigning champions, with the tension and “entorno” surrounding the club playing major factors in Xavi’s decision to step down.
Much of the discourse in the wake of Xavi’s announcement has focused on who’ll succeed the Spaniard at the helm. Little has been made of the manager’s future.
Here’s how 90min ranks potential job openings for Xavi after he departs Barcelona come summer.
Like Barcelona, Liverpool will be on the hunt for a new manager in the summer after Jurgen Klopp revealed that he’d be stepping down at the end of the season following a nine-year tenure at Anfield.
However, Xavi isn’t a name the Reds are likely to entertain. His body of work doesn’t suggest he’ll be capable of guiding an incredibly emotional club through what could be a painful rebuild in the wake of Klopp’s exit.
Liverpool are more likely to target Xavi’s former international teammate Xabi Alonso for the role instead.
Likelihood rating: 1/10
Chelsea are desperate for the Mauricio Pochettino project to come good for a myriad of reasons. However, the Argentine’s debut season has been laden with misery outside of their success in the domestic cups.
The Blues are once again mid-table fodder in the Premier League, and there’s a chance that the club part ways with Poch should their campaign end in a similar vein to 2022/23 (12th in the final standings).
If Todd Boehly is incessant on sticking with a ‘project manager’ in the wake of another failure, then Xavi might be a name they consider. However, Chelsea fans are more likely to clamour for a return to the DNA that made them so successful under Roman Abrahmovich’s ownership.
As it stands, it’s hard to envisage Xavi marauding the home dugout at Stamford Bridge. It’s just not a great match.
Likelihood rating: 3/10
Xavi wound down his playing days in Qatar with Al Sadd before then beginning his managerial career with the same club.
The Spaniard enjoyed plenty of success in Qatar and would perhaps be open to a return if he fancies a period out of the limelight after enduring the chaos of Catalonia.
However, the national team job is more likely than a return to the Qatari top flight with Al Sadd. Presuming Xavi is a man of lofty ambition, what does he have to prove at the club where he’s been there and done it?
The former midfielder once said he’d be open to coaching the Qatari national team at the 2022 World Cup, and while that window passed, he might fancy guiding them on their journey to the 2026 tournament.
Likelihood rating: 4/10
Xavi achieved unprecedented success with the Spanish national team as they claimed three successive major tournament titles between 2008 and 2012, winning their first World Cup in 2010.
Luis de la Fuente faces a huge test this summer at Euro 2024, with the relatively unknown Spain manager succeeding Luis Enrique in the wake of the 2022 World Cup.
While he’s done a pretty good job thus far, De la Fuente’s low-key standing renders his position vulnerable. The Spanish federation are keen to extend the manager’s deal until the 2026 World Cup, but many will be calling for his head should Spain underwhelm in Germany this coming summer.
Given Xavi’s status and availability, he’s a name Spain will surely consider if they think about parting ways with their incumbent. The less demanding nature of the international calendar might also suit the Barcelona boss.
Likelihood rating: 6/10
Sticking around in Spain seems likely for Xavi. However, the Barcelona coach shouldn’t be expected to land a top La Liga job.
The two Madrid clubs are off the table, Ernesto Valverde is thriving with Athletic Club, Imanol is wedded to Real Sociedad, while Valencia are on the come-up with club legend Ruben Baraja at the helm.
Still, there are some options for Xavi. Surprise title contenders Girona could be on the lookout in the summer given the interest that’s building in Michel, and Real Betis could part ways with Manuel Pellegrini. However, it’s almost certain that a vacancy will open up at Sevilla and this could be Xavi’s best route to remaining in La Liga.
Sevilla have been a mess for a couple of years, despite their Europa League success last season. They’re onto their third manager this term with Quique Sanchez Flores hoping to steer the historic club away from relegation.
Flores is a short-term fix who almost certainly won’t be at the club come the start of 2024/25. It’s a tough job given the make-up of the squad, but one which Xavi might fancy taking on.
Likelihood rating: 7/10
It’s not just Europe’s supreme playing talent that Saudi Arabia are trying to poach. The Kingdom has also tried to prise away some of the game’s brightest coaching minds.
Jose Mourinho and Massimiliano Allegri are among the managers to receive mammoth offers from the Saudi Pro League (SPL), with the likes of Jorge Jesus and Marcelo Gallardo among those currently coaching there.
Xavi is a superstar name that’ll undoubtedly intrigue those in the cash-rich Kingdom, with the Spaniard’s experience of the Middle East rendering this option more likely than some European alternatives. The Barcelona boss only recently expressed his admiration of the SPL project, candidly saying in January: “I am a big fan of the Saudi league.”
It’s on the table, that’s for sure.
Likelihood rating: 8/10