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After Xavi refuses to return, Barca chasing this manager to replace Valverde – report

After Xavi refuses to return, Barca chasing this manager to replace Valverde – report
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FC Barcelona reportedly has contacted Mauricio Pochettino to take up the managerial role replacing under-fire current boss, Ernesto Valverde.

FC Barcelona reportedly has contacted Mauricio Pochettino to take up the managerial role replacing under-fire current boss, Ernesto Valverde.

Reigning champions are on the top of the points table in La Liga ahead of arch-rivals Real Madrid and they are also alive in the UEFA Champions League. Barca has already lost three matches in La Liga, one less than Seville and their recent loss to Atletico Madrid in the semi-final of Super Copa just made the situation worse for Valverde.

According to news reports, Barca's first choice for Valverde's replacement was their former player Xavi Hernandez. However, Xavi refused to return to Barca as he wants to continue to manage Al Sadd in the Qatar Stars League – the club he joined as a player after leaving Barcelona at the end of the 2014-15 season.

After Xavi, the Spanish giants are believed to have contacted Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman, who also rejected the offer.

Soon after the rumours unfolded about Xavi denying to coach Barcelona, Spanish radio station RAC1 reported that Barca is now targeting Mauricio Pochettino for the manager's role.

The Argentine already has experience of managing a club in Barcelona. Before joining Tottenham, he spent close to three years at Espanyol, having managed them for as many as 275 games across two spells between 2009 and 2012. He then had a year's stint at Southampton before Tottenham signed him as their head coach in 2014.

The 47-year-old had a brilliant run in London with the 2018-19 season being his best when he led Tottenham to their maiden Champions League final. Unfortunately, their dream run ended on an unhappy note as they lost the final 2-0 to Liverpool FC at Madrid's Wanda Metropolitano.

Former Barca veteran Andres Iniesta, who played under Valverde for a season, has shown support for the latter.

"What comes to my mind a little, if all this is so, is that the way everything is being done is a bit ugly. I think that there should always be respect for the coach. The boss's situation and position have been left very weakened.

My relationship with the boss is very good. During the year we have been talking sometimes. Really, beyond whether we like the coach or not, I think the situation is not pleasant for anyone: the coach, the team or the fans," Iniesta said in a recent interview.

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