De Zerbi opens the door to Barcelona: 'I have a contract, but I haven't decided anything'

The Brighton coach has been touted as the leading candidate to succeed Xavi next season.

De Zerbi opens the door to Barcelona: 'I have a contract, but I haven't decided anything'
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Roberto De Zerbi, the head coach of Brighton & Hove Albion, finds himself at the center of speculation regarding a potential move to Barcelona as a successor to Xavi for the 2024/25 season.

This speculation gained traction following reports in the Spanish press that identified him as a prime candidate for the role at the Catalan club. When questioned about these rumors, De Zerbi left the possibility of taking up a new challenge open, without committing to any decision.

During a press conference, De Zerbi addressed the speculation with a focus on his current responsibilities. "At the moment, I only have Brighton on my mind. I would like to finish the season in the best possible way with our young players. Next season? It's true that I have a contract, but I haven't decided anything. My focus is 100 percent on Brighton," he stated, underlining his commitment to Brighton for the remainder of the season while also acknowledging the uncertainty about his future.

De Zerbi's contract with Brighton, which currently sits in seventh place in the Premier League, extends until 2026 and includes a release clause of €10 million. Barcelona, however, is reportedly hesitant to meet this financial demand directly, preferring instead to negotiate a mutual understanding that could facilitate De Zerbi's departure without triggering the clause.

Adding an intriguing layer to the story, Catalunya Radio has reported that Joan Laporta, the president of Barcelona, received a recommendation to consider De Zerbi for the coaching position from none other than Pep Guardiola. This endorsement reportedly came during an informal conversation between Laporta and Guardiola, who is not only a former coach and player for Barcelona but also a highly respected figure in football management, currently leading Manchester City.

This development suggests a high level of interest and consideration within Barcelona's leadership for De Zerbi, highlighting the Italian coach's rising stock in European football. With his approach to the game and the potential backing from influential figures like Guardiola, De Zerbi's connection to the Barcelona job adds an exciting dimension to the coaching carousel as clubs prepare for the upcoming season.