La Liga 'lacking star player' after Messi's Barcelona exit
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River Plate manager Marcelo Gallardo has rejected an approach from Barcelona as the Catalan giants seek a new boss to replace Ronald Koeman, according to reports. The latter appears to be on thin ice at the Nou Camp after a disappointing start to the new campaign and is widely expected to be relieved of his duties in the near future.
Koeman was appointed to replace Quique Setien in August of last year but has struggled to get Barcelona firing on all cylinders.
He led the club to a disappointing third-placed finish in La Liga last season, seven points behind eventual champions Atletico Madrid, and failed to progress past the Champions League round of 16.
Barcelona’s struggles have continued into the new campaign after a lacklustre summer transfer window that was heavily influenced by the club’s financial crisis.
They were heavily reliant on free transfers, with the likes of Memphis Depay and Sergio Aguero arriving as Koeman’s standout signings.
Meanwhile, Barcelona were also rocked by the surprise departure of Lionel Messi, who joined Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer in August.
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Koeman looks set to pay the price for Barcelona’s recent shortcomings, with the Dutchman reportedly in line to be sacked as a matter of urgency.
The club’s hierarchy moved to identify Gallardo as a potential replacement earlier this week, but it seems as though the 45-year-old will be staying at River Plate for now.
He has already turned down a proposal from the Spanish club in order to see out his contract with River Plate, according to RAC1.
Gallardo is tied down until the end of 2021 and would consider taking the Barcelona job in January, when he will become a free agent.
However, he is not prepared to walk out on River Plate before the expiry of his current deal at the turn of the year.
Meanwhile, a number of other candidates are reportedly on Barcelona’s radar, including former midfielder Xavi.
The Spaniard is currently in charge of Qatari outfit Al Sadd but would likely jump at the chance to manage his old club, who currently occupy sixth place in the La Liga table.
Although Xavi is admired greatly by the senior members of Barcelona’s dressing room, a number of board members are yet to be convinced of his managerial capabilities.
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It has also been suggested that Andrea Pirlo could be in line to replace Koeman after leaving Juventus at the end of last season, while Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez is said to be another name on the list.
However, Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong recently insisted that the club’s growing list of problems will not automatically be solved if Koeman is eventually sacked.
“I don’t think changing the coach is the solution, I can’t talk about Koeman, it’s not my place,” said De Jong.
“We have to keep fighting, stay together and overcome this situation. We can only escape this with hard work and being united as a team.”
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