Barcelona targets Andrea Pirlo and Xavi ‘ready to replace Ronald Koeman’ as plans change

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Barcelona targets Andrea Pirlo and Xavi are willing to take over from Ronald Koeman if the opportunity arises, according to reports. The Dutchman is currently battling to save his job at the Nou Camp. But, with Atletico Madrid next up tonight, that won’t be easy.

Barcelona lost the likes of Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann back in the summer, to PSG and Atletico Madrid respectively.

And they’ve struggled ever since, with Koeman overseeing a difficult start to the new season.

Things stopped to a new low in midweek, with Benfica hammering them 3-0 in their Champions League clash in Portugal.

As a result, talk of Barcelona giving Koeman the boot has gathered momentum.

And Sport say both Xavi and Pirlo are open to taking over.

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The former is currently working wonders at Al-Sadd and, having starred for Barcelona during his playing days, would be a popular choice.

Pirlo, meanwhile, is out of work after being sacked by Juventus in the summer following his failure to guide them to Serie A glory.

The report states that Barcelona’s plans have now changed, too.

After Roberto Martinez and Marcelo Gallardo made it clear they’re happy at their current jobs, the La Liga side have ‘unmarked’ them on their list of potential new managers.

And whether Koeman can lift the pressure off his shoulders with victory over Atletico Madrid tonight remains to be seen.

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Speaking after the defeat to Benfica, the former Everton and Southampton boss called for patience.

“This is not the team of years gone by. It’s crystal clear,” he said.

“The result is hard to take. I don’t think it’s a fair reflection. After conceding so early we responded well but we couldn’t score.

“They are very quick and strong. There are a lot teams stronger than us.”

And he also came out fighting on Friday.

“Nobody has said anything to me,” he said when asked about his future.

“The president [Joan Laporta] was here but I haven’t seen him because we were preparing for tomorrow’s game.

“I am still here, but I have eyes and ears and a lot of things filter through.

“I am fed up of having to defend myself. It makes no sense. Today is not the time, but one day I would like to talk all about what I think of all this.”

Koeman then insisted he wasn’t the most important thing at Barcelona, insisting results are what matters more.

“I am not the most important,” he said. “A positive result is more important than one person.

“Everyone knows I am here out of love for the club. I came in a very complicated situation.”

Barcelona currently sit seventh in the La Liga table after winning three of their first six fixtures.

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