Roberto De Zerbi the frontrunner for the Barcelona job, according to report

The Brighton manager is reportedly now the favorite to take over from Xavi Hernandez

Stoke City v Brighton and Hove Albion - Emirates FA Cup Third Round
Stoke City v Brighton and Hove Albion - Emirates FA Cup Third Round / Ben Roberts Photo/GettyImages

A number of names were thrown out almost immediately following Xavi Hernandez's decision to step aside as Barcelona manager come the end of the season.

Some of those names included Hansi Flick, Mikel Arteta and Luis Enrique to name a few. One outside shot was Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi.

According to a report, that once outside shot has now become the frontrunner to take over.

According to Diario AS journalist Javier Miguel, the Italian manager is the chosen one to succeed Xavi Hernandez. However, there is one caveat to his potential appointment.

De Zerbi has a 10 million euro release clause. A release clause Barcelona have no intention of paying.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta and sporting director Deco have reportedly also given their approval.

It's worth mentioning De Zerbi shares agents with Ronald Araujo. Those agents were in Barcelona during the week to discuss Araujo's renewal but undoubtedly there were discussions on the possibility of De Zerbi taking charge next season.

De Zerbi had a breakout campaign last season with Brighton, leading them to a Europa League finish. This season, however, has been more of a struggle. Perhaps having to play in Europe has cost them in the Premier League as they currently sit ninth in the standings.

He is still one of the up and coming managers in the sport but there are certainly some questions and concerns with his potential appointment.

The most glaring one is that lack of experience. When Xavi announced his departure, one of the talking points was the next Barcelona manager needed to have experience managing an elite level club. It's why Hansi Flick was wanted by many following his stint with Germany and Bayern Munich.

Brighton have punched above their weight with De Zerbi in charge but managing Barcelona is an entirely different beast. Not only does the Catalan side need to win, they need do it by playing aesthetically pleasing football while maintaining their style and philosophy.

Then there is the matter of the Catalan press who are unrelenting in their criticism if they feel you're moving away from what they consider the "Barcelona DNA."

De Zerbi also hasn't managed a locker room with the type of personalities like the one in Barcelona. Those personalities, and egos, have done in other managers like Quique Setien who came in with a decent reputation of playing good football.


Brighton are certain to point to De Zerbi's release clause should Barcelona come knocking. It may prove to be the ultimate hinderance in a potential appointment. If the reaction to one report is any indication, if he does eventually take over, it will divide opinion. But that is going to be the case unless it's Pep Guardiola walking through those doors.