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Former Bayern Munich and Germany manager Hansi Flick has reportedly emerged as one of the top candidates to succeed Xavi as the Barcelona manager, should the club decide to fire the ex-player.

Barcelona’s sporting director Deco and football coordinator Bojan have reportedly traveled to London for a work trip this week, per ESPN, while reports out of Spain claim they will meet Flick and his agent there. A final decision on firing Xavi, though, will not come until next week, when club president Joan Laporta plans to meet with him.

Flick is one of several managers being considered for the potential vacancy, which would be one of several high-profile available jobs in Europe. The list of candidates reportedly includes second-team manager Rafa Marquez, another ex-Bayern Munich manager in Thomas Tuchel and former Brighton and Hove Albion coach Roberto De Zerbi. The latter two are expected to be in the running for several other jobs across the continent but have yet to be seriously linked to any jobs.

Flick has been a well-respected coach for some time in his native Germany. He was an assistant coach for the national team when they won the 2014 World Cup and was also on the books when they finished runners-up at the 2008 Euros and successive third place finishes at the 2010 World Cup and the 2012 Euros. He then made a name for himself during his spell at Bayern from 2019 to 2021, when he won the UEFA Champions League, two Bundesliga titles and the Club World Cup, among other accolades.

He then took the Germany job, though was a candidate for the Barcelona vacancy before taking on the national team. The team underperformed during his tenure, which included a group stage exit in the 2022 World Cup and in September of last year, Flick became the first manager to be fired from the job. He has been out of work since.

Managerial twists and turns at Barcelona

The last several months have been turbulent at Barcelona as it pertains to their managerial situation. After a string of poor results, Xavi announced in January that he would step down at the end of the season but the club never seriously considered other managers and instead tried to convince him to stay. The plan eventually worked, leading Xavi to reverse his decision in April after a meeting with Laporta.

Things took a turn last week after a seemingly innocuous incident at a press conference, when Xavi told media members that it would be hard to compete with Real Madrid next season considering the club’s differing economic situations. While Real Madrid are stable enough to pay the wages for many of the world’s top players and expected to sign Kylian Mbappe, Barcelona have been struggling to cope with La Liga’s financial regulations for the last several years.

“We are going to try to compete,” Xavi said last week, per ESPN. “The situation is difficult financially. It has nothing to do with what used to happen 25 years ago, when the coach came and said, ‘I like this player, this one and this one.’ It doesn’t work like that anymore. The supporters need to understand the situation. As the coach, I understand what’s happening and that’s how we’re going to manage things. Right now, we are not in the same conditions as other clubs with better [financial] fair play, that’s the reality. The fans should know. But this doesn’t mean that we won’t try to achieve our goals.”

Laporta was reportedly upset with Xavi’s “realistic” point of view and began to contemplate firing the manager, per Guillem Balague. ESPN reports that Xavi and his staff have been left in the dark about their job stability since last week’s events, though they anticipate that they will not be in charge next season.

Should Barcelona decide to fire Xavi, there’s a question about whether or not he will ask to be compensated for the final year of his contract. It could worsen the club’s financial standing, which reportedly was high on their list of priorities when they decided to convince him to stay earlier this year.

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