Barcelona coach's relationship with players strained, Barca marks Xavi as replacement

Barcelona manager Quique Setien's relationship with his players is already showing signs of straining, with various sources saying they didn't click from day one.

Barca led La Liga in January when Setien replaced Ernesto Valverde, who was sacked after the Spanish Supercopa defeat to Atletico Madrid in Saudi Arabia. However, Saturday's 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo, coupled with Real Madrid's win at Espanyol on Sunday, saw them fall two points behind Zinedine Zidane's side at the top of the table with just six games to be played.

Setien signed a contract with Barca in January until 2022 as replacement for Ernesto Valverde-- with a get-out clause in 2021 if the newly elected president does not want him to continue -- but results and performances have quickly seen him lose credit with the players and the board of directors.

Results and performances have not improved at Camp Nou since the veteran coach took the hot seat , the club are prepared to sack him unless results drastically improve and they win the Liga title or Champions League this season.

The former Real Betis manager has lost the confidence of the Barca dressing room, while the club's board are also unhappy with recent performances.

Unless Barca's displays for the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign have a significant upswing, it is understood that it is inevitable Setien will leave his post in the summer.

Player power at Barcelona is strong - led by stars such as Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique - and the dressing room has turned against Setien due to confusion at his tactics and unhappiness at his comments in the press.

They are also unhappy with Setien being too hands-on in training - similar to how Real Madrid's stars turned against Rafael Benitez before he was sacked and replaced by Zinedine Zidane - while the assistant manager, Eder Sarabia, is also a very unpopular figure.

Setien has also lost the confidence of the board, who hoped the coach would help smooth things over after Valverde's departure - however poor results and negative football has ensured this has not been the case.

Setien was never the first choice after Valverde's sacking, with Ronald Koeman and Xavi Hernandez both turning down the job before the 61-year-old was appointed.

Former Barca star Xavi, now coach of Qatari club Al Sadd, has admitted he is preparing to manage his old club in the future and the Camp Nou board may try and persuade him to return this summer, while current B team boss Xavi Garcia Pimienta is also considered an option.

For now however Setien continues - but unless he manages to guide the club to what looks like increasingly unlikely success, he is on borrowed time.

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