New Barcelona boss Quique Setien was the club’s “fourth choice at best” for the job, according to Spanish football expert Graham Hunter.
The former Real Betis manager was named on Monday by the Spanish champions after Ernesto Valverde’s dismissal, despite the club currently leading the league.
Although Setien signed a two-and-a-half-year deal at Camp Nou, Hunter says that former midfielder Xavi Hernandez, Ronald Koeman and Mauricio Pochettino were all contacted before the club moved on to the 61-year-old.
Speaking on Sky Sports’ Transfer Talk podcast, Hunter said, “They went to Qatar to try and convince Xavi that they should have known he wasn’t coming, they couldn’t come.
“They tried to convince Ronald Koeman, who had previously told them he wouldn’t join them. He thinks he will train the Netherlands for the European championship and victory this summer.
“They supported what Mauricio Pochettino had previously said, that he preferred to return to work on his farm in Argentina rather than go to coach Barcelona, they tried to convince him.
“Quique Setien is an attractive coach with a [Johan] Cruyff mentality but it is the fourth choice, at best. It was a laughable matter of Keystone Cops from start to finish. “
Setien himself admitted that he was surprised to receive the job during his first press conference, stating that his date was beyond his “wildest dreams”.
Former Barcelona midfielder Xavi was considered the favorite for the job after confirming that he had met the club’s managers over the weekend.
And Hunter said the 39-year-old, who currently manages the Qatari part of Al Sadd, may still be returning to Camp Nou in the future.
“Xavi is very much in line with a presidential candidate who wants to take control of the club at the 2021 election,” he added. “His name is Victor Font.
“They work together, they are a team. Xavi is expected to return.
“This president, [Josep Maria] Bartomeu, went to Xavi to say “Forget it, forget your friend, forget all your alliances”.
“He also went to Xavi and said ‘Come on now, forget that your Qatari team has a cup final to play this Friday.’ Something he qualified them for. He had moderate success in his first season of coaching in Qatar.
“It is no secret that he paid huge sums for being there. The idea of convincing him to abandon his club, to abandon the huge contract he has and to abandon his friend Victor Font, who wants to take over in 2021.
“This was a mission I think was absolutely doomed to failure.”
Setien will take charge of the Liga leaders for the first time when they host Granada on Sunday.