After a brief period of shock, the Spanish Primera Liga club has moved on from FC Barcelona head coach Xavi Hernandez’s decision to step down.

Barcelona officially announced on June 28 that Xavi will leave the club at the end of the season on June 30.

Xavi said, “I’ve been thinking about it for a few days. I don’t want to be a problem for the club,” he said, adding, “I will give everything in the next four months to win the league. Even if the team wins, I will not repeat my decision,” he said.

The cause is poor performance. Barcelona currently sits in fourth place with 44 points, behind Girona (55), Real Madrid (54), and Atletico Madrid (44).

At the point of counting league return points, it’s arithmetically possible for them to win the title, but it won’t be easy.

The team is in the round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League, leaving them with a chance to win Europe, but public opinion is not in their favor. Xavi’s contract runs until 2025 and he has one year left on it.

The news of Xavi’s resignation immediately hit the Barcelona squad hard, with some players reportedly unable to hold back tears in the locker room.

Even Roberto Lewandowski, the team’s top scorer this season (8 goals), fell silent in tears.

In the meantime, the club’s hierarchy quickly began the process of hiring a replacement. Mikel Arteta (Spain), who currently manages Arsenal in the English Premier League (EPL), has been heavily touted.

Multiple Spanish outlets have reported that Arteta could take over at Barça after this season. However, Arteta denied the reports, saying it was “very early days.

According to the BBC, Arteta said of the Barça speculation, “No, it’s not true. It’s completely fake news. I’m very upset after hearing it,” he said, adding, “I can’t believe it.”

Thiago Motta, who currently manages Bologna in the Italian Serie A, appears to be the favorite.

“Barcelona want to sign Thiago Motta, who has led Bologna to great success this season,” said Spanish newspaper Sporting, “and he is a candidate who is in talks with sporting director Deku Varsa.”

Reporting to Motta will be Sporting Director Isa Deku. Deku and Motta are known to be “best friends” having played together at Barcelona.

Both are Brazilian, with the Portuguese playing from 2004 to 2008, and the Italian wearing the Barça shirt from 2001 to 2007.

Motta, who made his managerial debut in 2019 when he took over at Genoa, has been at the helm of Bologna since the 2022-2023 season, following stints at Spezia Calcio (2021-2022).

His distinctive tactical coloration earned him a shortlist for the Paris Saint-Germain (France) job. This season, the club is in eighth place in the league with eight wins, nine draws, and four losses (33 points). The gap between them and leaders Inter Milan (55 points) makes it difficult to win the title, but at least fourth place in the league is within reach.

Mourinho’s contract with Bologna ends on June 30, so he’s a strong candidate for the job due to his leadership credentials and his familiarity with the Barça hierarchy.

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