Mauricio Pochettino is the prime candidate to be the next Barcelona manager, with the club planning to sack Quique Setién in the coming days following their 8-2 hammering by Bayern Munich in the Champions League. The decision is expected to be ratified at a board meeting on Monday and will be just the first of a series of key changes over the next month.
Pochettino ate dinner with the Barcelona president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, last week according to Spanish radio station Cadena Ser. The former Tottenham manager, who played for and managed Barça’s local rivals Espanyol, has moved to distance himself from a previous remark, in which he claimed that he would rather go home and work on a farm than coach Barcelona.
“I was trying to quash the rumours [at the time] in a dramatic way,” he said in an interview with El País. “I’m not arrogant and I didn’t like saying that. Maybe I wouldn’t do it now, because you never know what will happen.”
Barcelona spoke to Pochettino, as well as former players Ronald Koeman and Thierry Henry, when they turned to Setién as a replacement for Ernesto Valverde as coach in January. By then, they had already been turned down by the former Barça midfielder Xavi Hernández.
Xavi, who is currently in charge of Qatari club Al-Sadd, is not keen to return to Camp Nou under this board of directors and has linked his future to Víctor Font, a likely opposition presidential candidate in the next election. Under pressure to resign, Bartomeu is understood to be discussing the possibility of bringing forward elections – currently scheduled for next summer – to spring 2021.
Despite insisting that Setién was going to continue in an interview last week, and refusing to give a clear answer in the immediate aftermath of the humiliation on Friday night, Maria Bartomeu said that “some” of those decisions had already been made before the club’s European exit. Others, he admitted, would follow in the wake of defeat.