Who is following Pep Guardiola out the door in Barcelona?
With the announcement of Pep Guardiola's departure from Barcelona after this season to end a highly successful four-year tenure at the club, Sport360°'s La Liga correspondent Dermot Corrigan ponders who may be joining 'Pep' out of the Camp Nou exit door.
1. Gerard Piqué
We will probably never know exactly why Guardiola lost faith in Piqué, but something had clearly gone wrong in their relationship. With Tito Vilanova now coming in, some might see this as the perfect opportunity for Piqué to pack his bags and try his luck elsewhere, even back in England.
But this seems unlikely, particularly given the defender’s family ties to the club. It may even be that Guardiola realised that his handling of the issue showed he had lost a previously sure man-management touch. Vilanova reportedly has a good relationship with everyone in the dressing-room, and he and Piqué can start again at zero. Verdict: Staying
2. Dani Alves
Guardiola, club president Sandro Rosell and sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta repeatedly stressed yesterday that the club’s focus on its own style and philosophy would continue. This was good news for most of the squad, but maybe not for Brazilian full-back Dani Alves.
Alves has had a poor season by his own high standards, and was dropped for the second leg against Chelsea last week. With a home-made replacement waiting in the wings in Martín Montoya (Spanish U-21 international and likely starter in this summer’s London Olympics) Alves may be looking for a new club this summer. Verdict: Time to go
3. Lionel Messi
Messi was so distraught at yesterday’s news that he could not bring himself to join his team-mates in the Camp Nou press room to watch Guardiola publicly announce his decision. When he regains his composure the Argentine may consider that under Pep’s system he has become undoubtedly the best player in the world, while often struggling for his best form under different coaches at international level.
The appointment of Vilanova can be seen as a message to Messi that it’s okay, nothing is going to change, the team will still be built around you. This should ensure the he stays, for the time being at least. Verdict: Going nowhere
4. David Villa
While Guardiola and Vilanova have been tweaking Barcelona’s style through the seasons to get the most out of Messi, other attackers have tended to grow unhappy at their secondary roles, from Samuel Eto’o to Zlatan Ibrahimovic. There were murmurs, even before his broken leg last December, that Villa was becoming similarly disgruntled.
Since then the emergence of much younger and nippier Isaac Cuenca and Cristian Tello also counts against the 31 year-old Spanish international. Premier League clubs - including Abu-Dhabi backed Manchester City - may be willing to bet 'El Guaje' has a few more goalscoring years left in him. Verdict: Open to offers
5. Xavi Hernández
Yesterday’s announcement brought to mind Guardiola’s quite similar exit from the club as a player back in 2001. Then the 30-year old Pep stunned everyone by announcing he was leaving the Camp Nou in search of new cultures and experiences.
This departure helped the emergence of a young midfielder called Xavi Hernández, who stepped forward to take a regular first team place the following season. Flash forward 11 years and Xavi (now 32), may consider the chance to try something different himself, especially with the younger Cesc Fábregas and particularly Thiago Alcántara standing by. Verdict: Staying but looking around