Xavi ‘wants Chelsea target and Raheem Sterling’ at Barcelona after replacing Ronald Koeman

Ronald Koeman final press conference

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Xavi has earmarked Chelsea target Jules Kounde and Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling as two potential signings for Barcelona ahead of his expected appointment as the club’s new manager, according to reports. The 41-year-old, who is currently in charge of Qatari outfit Al-Sadd, has emerged as the overwhelming favourite for the role after Ronald Koeman was relieved of his duties earlier this week.

The Dutchman had been under considerable pressure since the beginning of the campaign and was unable to turn Barcelona’s form around before club president Joan Laporta dropped the axe on Wednesday evening.

The Catalan giants currently sit ninth in La Liga, six points adrift of early leaders Real Madrid, after winning just four of their opening ten matches.

Barcelona made the change in the wake of back-to-back defeats against their El Clasico rivals and Rayo Vallecano, who sealed an impressive home win two days ago to rubber-stamp Koeman’s fate.

Xavi is now widely expected to take charge of the club he spent the vast majority of his playing career at, with talks said to be at an advanced stage.

The Spaniard already looks to be planning ahead for the January transfer window as he aims to get Barcelona’s season back on track.

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He has picked out Kounde and Sterling as the club’s priority targets for the mid-season market, according to transfer expert Gerard Moreno.

It is claimed that Xavi will also prioritise a new deal for Ousmane Dembele, who has been linked with a surprise move to Newcastle United in recent weeks.

The current Al-Sadd boss is reportedly planning to bring back the iconic 4-3-3 setup that was used by Pep Guardiola during the City manager’s successful period in charge of Barcelona.

However, it remains to be seen whether Xavi will be able to lead the club back into the La Liga title race between now and the end of the campaign.

He currently boasts a win rate of 68.5 per cent with Al-Sadd after winning 61 of his 89 matches in charge of the Qatari champions.

The former Spain international has also managed to bring a number of big names to the club, including the likes of Santi Cazorla and Andre Ayew.

Xavi remained coy over the possibility of taking over at Barcelona when quizzed on the speculation earlier this week, telling reporters that he will be focused on Al-Sadd until he is no longer at the helm.

“I am very concentrated on Al-Sadd, I don’t want to talk about anything else,” he said.

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Meanwhile, former Barcelona striker Luis Suarez recently warned Xavi against taking over from Koeman due to the club’s ongoing financial problems.

“At Barca, there is a war that hurts the players,” said the Atletico Madrid marksman last month.

“I personally recommend to Xavi that he waits. This is not the ideal time to go to the club.

“He is intelligent and knows the difficulties of the club and he must wait for the right moment.”

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