Barcelona would be willing to pay compensation in order to hire current Belgium coach Roberto Martinez as a replacement for Ronald Koeman, who remains under pressure at Camp Nou.
Results under Koeman in tremendously difficult circumstances so far this season have been poor and have led to growing speculation that the legendary former Barça may only have a few more games left to save his job or face the sack.
Koeman refused to answer questions when he faced the media on Wednesday, instead reading out a pre-prepared statement discussing the challenge of rebuilding without any financial power.
Barça face Cadiz on Thursday night, followed by a game against Levante at the weekend and then Benfica when Champions League football resumes next week. Koeman’s team will be expected to win all three games and the pressure and speculation will only increase if they don’t.
A number of potential successors have already been linked. 90min revealed this week that the Catalans continue to keep an eye on Leicester coach Brendan Rodgers, who is famed for his ability to develop young talents and already speaks Spanish after previously learning it for six years.
Pep Guardiola is also said to be an ambitious target for Barça president Joan Laporta, either as a head coach or sporting director. However, that dream is much more likely to be out of reach.
Martinez is another potentially on the radar. The 48-year-old former Wigan and Everton boss has been in charge of the Belgian national team since 2016 and has re-established the Red Devils as the number one international side in the world since late 2018.
Breaking the Spaniard out of his contract with Belgium, which expires after the 2022 World Cup, would come at a cost. But SPORT writes that paying the €1.8m fee would ‘not be a problem’ for the club and that it can be triggered any time if Martinez receives an offer he likes.
The situation would differ from when Koeman was poached from his job as Netherlands coach. On that occasion, he had to pay the €6m out of his own pocket to break the contract, although he will be owed that back in compensation by Barça if they do not extend his contract into a third season.
Sacking Koeman and hiring Martinez would therefore carry an expense of at least €7.8m.
Out of respect for Koeman and not wishing to comment on something that may not happen, Martinez has so far distanced himself from the rumours.
“When you lose three games the rumours are that you are going to lose your job. When things are going well, you are doing good results, the rumours will always be there, but it’s nothing for me to comment on at this point,” he told Eurosport this week.