• Quique Setien is on his way out of Barcelona after the season
  • Ronald Koeman is being considered to replace Setien
  • Lionel Messi is reportedly unhappy the choice to tap Koeman as next Barca coach

By all indications, Quique Setien’s exit from Barcelona is all but just a matter of formality as the club mulls over a replacement for his spot. Josep Maria Bartomeu’s top candidates are said to be not keen on working with the Spanish executive, making Dutch manager Ronald Koeman likely to be the most viable choice. That, however, does not seem to get the approval of star captain Lionel Messi.

A report from Diario GOL labeled Koeman as the “last bullet” of Bartomeu in his search for the successor for Setien, who has earned the scrutiny of Barcelona fans after a rather shaky stretch since returning from the hiatus.

The choice reportedly has triggered frustration on Messi, who instead wants either Pep Guardiola or Xavi on the post.

“Lionel Messi as always will have his say in the hiring process and doesn’t want the former defender to sign up as the head coach,” Atharva Khadilkar of Everything Barca wrote. “Rather, the Argentine believes that someone with a greater spine and voice like Pep Guardiola or Xavi should be landed.”

According to reports, both Guardiola and Xavi are not ruling out the possibility of coaching the Blaugrana. In fact, the latter has expressed his excitement over a return to Camp Nou and the chance to manage the club. He, however, pointed out that the ideal time to make the decision is after the Barcelona presidential elections, where Bartomeu is not expected to run for re-election.

"The biggest hope I have now is to be Barca coach and get Barca back to winning ways," said Xavi, via Goal. "Not me but these players and Barca triumphing. And as a consequence, our technical staff, who are preparing for it a lot and it makes us really excited.

"I'm a club man. I would like to return at the right moment to start a project from zero. I've said it a lot of times but I want to take footballing decisions at Barcelona.

"It's clear that after the elections the stage would be set, of course. I'm not ruling anything out. They came for me in January, we were speaking. I told them the circumstances and timing weren't right."

Barcelona has visibly struggled with Setien’s system that has allowed Real Madrid to capture the top spot in La Liga. The Spanish manager’s firing is intended to address the turmoil at Camp Nou. But with Messi giving the thumbs down on the club’s choice of replacement, the lingering club friction may continue to be a concern.

A beardless Lionel Messi  returned to the football pitch with a goal and two assists as Barcelona thumped Real Mallorca
A beardless Lionel Messi returned to the football pitch with a goal and two assists as Barcelona thumped Real Mallorca AFP / JAIME REINA