Belgium's Roberto Martinez emerges as the favourite for the Barça job

The Catalan coach, along with Xavi, is now the front runner if Koeman's sacked

| sport

Toni Juanmartí

FC Barcelona are still working on a replacement for Ronald Koeman in the event there is not a dramatic improvement in the team's performances.

In recent hours, a lot of names have been come out, although the list of priorities has been reduced to just two: Roberto Martinez and Xavi Hernandez.

That does not mean that one of the two will be the next Barça coach, but they are currently ahead of any other candidates for the job.

From there, negotiations would have to take place, with both Martinez and Xavi currently in jobs with Belgium and Al-Sadd respectively.

Right now, Martinez is the favourite. The Belgium boss is liked by Barça president Joan Laporta. In fact, during a reflection period in the summer, Laporta contacted him.

Then, with the European Championships around the corner, the Catalan coach didn't feel the timing was right. This time it could be different.

But while Laporta is leaning one way, other members of the board would prefer to bet on Xavi. For Laporta, the natural step for Xavi would be with Barça B first and then the senior side. Xavi was also strongly linked to Victor Font's campaign.

NOW OR NEVER

For Martinez, Barça feel it's now or never. The club want a solid project on the bench and hope the next appointment will be a long-term one. In other words, if Roberto doesn't accept now, he may never get the chance again.

What's more, Barça have even mapped out a route for his appointment: he would take charge of Belgium for the UEFA Nations League semifinals in October before heading to Camp Nou. 

His exit would not be a problem. His contract, which expires after the 2022 World Cup, includes €1.8 million release clause, which Barça would be happy to pay. 

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