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After the big news that Jurgen Klopp would be leaving Liverpool at the end of the season, we now know that the same will happen with Xavi at Barcelona. He officially announced that he is leaving Barca at the end of the season – it’s over. The latest result was a terrible defeat at home to Villarreal, but my sources tell me that the atmosphere has been quite toxic around the manager.
Xavi tried his best along with his staff to make things work at Barcelona, but it wasn’t working. It’s not just about Xavi, but the atmosphere around the team as well – the feeling is that since the beginning of the season, Xavi started to feel that the whole environment around the team was absolutely negative. He has now said that the club needs a change of dynamic – he considers that something was really broken between him and Barcelona.
Probably the only way to change things was by winning an important title, but they are already out of Copa del Rey, they lost the Super Cup, and they are ten points behind in La Liga, so almost impossible, and of course we know how strong the other teams in the Champions League are.
Xavi felt that the only way to change the situation around the squad was to communicate his decision for the end of the season, but also the feeling around those close to the manager was that he was probably going to be fired at the end of the season. He hopes that he can help the team in this difficult moment by making this announcement.
So, it’s over for Xavi and let’s see who’s going to be next. The name of Roberto De Zerbi will be around for Liverpool and Barcelona – it’s very easy to mention names like De Zerbi or Xabi Alonso for these clubs, but although they are strong candidates around Europe, I can guarantee that with Barcelona it will take time, because it has to be decided by Joan Laporta but also other people in the Barca board, including Deco, while in the case of Liverpool they want to find a new sporting director. My understanding is that Liverpool will work on a new director and then appoint a new manager – they have to re-structure the board and then hire the manager, whereas at Barcelona they already have Deco in place as director.
De Zerbi is likely to be an option in common for both clubs, but Barcelona are still taking their time before deciding their shortlist. Alonso, for sure, is a target for Liverpool, it’s 100% guaranteed that he’s a name they will consider, while De Zerbi is also appreciated by people at the club. We’ll have to see who will be Liverpool’s director, as there could be another candidates, but of course Alonso and De Zerbi will be there.
Thiago Motta is another name we’re hearing about for Barcelona, but I can probably say he’s not going to be a candidate. Let’s see if there will be others, I think there will be more names and it will be interesting for sure. Keep an eye on signings as well because in the next hours Barca will try to close the signing of Lucas Bergvall for next season – this is a signing they want to do despite the situation of Xavi, and they feel they have a very good chance to sign him too. The player wants to go to Barca, and it’s advancing very well.
Finally, there’s also been news of a big blow for Barcelona with Alejandro Balde’s injury. He’ll now miss the rest of the season and they already had Gavi injured for long time, so to see Balde out means really bad luck for Barca and bad news for Xavi until the end of the season. I don’t think they have space left on Financial Fair Play for one more signing, in that case would probably be for a midfielder.
Things have not got off to a great start for Hannibal Mejbri at Sevilla, but what’s really going on with the Manchester United loanee and manager Quique?
My understanding is that it is not a specific incident. There was some tension in training between some players and Hannibal too, but everything has been clarified and Hannibal spoke directly to the manager to keep the situation quiet.
It’s all good now, though it’s obviously in not easy in general at Sevilla because their season has been horrible. They remain just a point above the relegation zone in La Liga.
Also on Manchester United, despite reports that he would favour a move to Old Trafford there is still nothing decided for Michael Olise, at all. Nothing will be decided now, it’s way too early. He’s always in the rumours because there are good chances for him to leave Crystal Palace in the summer and I can definitely see Olise joining a top club. Still, the decision will come later, it’s too early now.
The Conor Gallagher situation continues to attract headlines, but at the moment there are no changes to report. Chelsea would only sell Gallagher for big money; Tottenham like him, Ange Postecoglou likes him but there’s no negotiation at this stage. Probably the only way for Spurs to be able to afford this deal would be to sell Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg on a permanent deal but, again, this is quiet as of now.
With Trevoh Chalobah, Chelsea are open to both a permanent sale or a loan deal but it depends on Chalobah. I’d keep the situation open for the final days of the transfer window, but at the moment nothing is close yet as it’s Chalobah who has to decide what’s the best step for him, and Chelsea are open to that.
Despite what’s being reported by some sources in Spain, I’m not aware of anything happening right now with Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey.
Atletico Madrid are not interested, and Real Sociedad are not looking into it now – there’s nothing at the moment. Saudi clubs wanted him last June but Arsenal decided to keep him, so let’s see what’s going to be the strategy in the next few months, but for January, it looks very quiet.