Xavi is the odds-on favourite to succeed Ronald Koeman at Barcelona, and the Spanish legend’s view on an Arsenal transfer target could scupper a potential move, claims a report.
Koeman was relieved of his duties on Thursday after overseeing a dismal start to the campaign. Barcelona sit ninth in La Liga and are facing an uphill struggle to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages.
Barcelona chiefs were understood to be receptive to Koeman’s plight. The club’s disastrous financial position has been well documented and left Koeman relying on free agent signings to offset a mass exodus in the summer.
Nonetheless, they deemed the poor start to the campaign too difficult to ignore and duly pulled the trigger.
The current favourite to take the reins is club legend Xavi Hernandez. The 41-year-old currently manages Qatari side Al-Sadd, though trusted journalist Fabrizio Romano revealed a Barcelona return is on the horizon.
Romano tweeted ‘Barça are waiting for the agreement to be completed soon.’ For his part, Xavi is remaining respectful to his current club. He is quoted as saying: “I am focused on my work with Al-Sadd and I won’t talk about anything else.”
Nonetheless, few would be surprised to see Xavi installed at the helm, and Football London suggest that could be bad news for Arsenal.
That comes from Arsenal and Xavi’s mutual admiration for Raheem Sterling. The England and Manchester City winger, 26, has fallen out of favour at the Etihad under Pep Guardiola.
Sterling recently claimed he would be “open” to moving elsewhere in search of more guaranteed game-time. That earned the scorn of Guardiola, who stated Sterling should “make a phonecall” and ask for a transfer request if he is unhappy with his boss’ team selections.
Arsenal had been touted as a potential landing spot if Sterling were to move. The Daily Express then examined five players who could be axed to fund a Sterling swoop.
But they could face competition from Barcelona if Xavi succeeds Koeman. The Football London article (citing Spanish journalist Gerard Moreno), claims Xavi is a ‘big fan’ of Sterling.
Furthermore, he views him as a ‘fantastic option’ to slot into the wide berths of his favoured 4-3-3 formation – if he gets the job.
One might think Barcelona’s financial strife would rule them out of the running. However, Spanish outlet SPORT reported a January loan deal with a ‘mandatory purchase option’ included could be viable.
That would see the fee for the permanent transfer offset until a later date. At that point, their finances would be in a stronger position.
Lacazette receives two offers amid Arsenal gamble
Meanwhile, Alexandre Lacazette has received two direct approaches to move within the Premier League as his contract winds down, per a report.
The Daily Star recently claimed Newcastle are in the mix for Lacazette’s signature as a potential free agent. The cash-rich Magpies would be able to offer a high sign-on fee and salary, and deem a move as ‘realistic’.
West Ham have also been namechecked as a potential landing spot. Michail Antonio remains their only senior recongised centre-forward and has struggled with injuries in the past.
Now, Caught Offside (citing a Spanish report), claim both those clubs have already ‘transferred their proposals’ to Lacazette’s camp.
If either club succeed, Lacazette would be handed the opportunity to prove Arsenal wrong for not renewing his deal.
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