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 head coach was appointed by the Spanish champions
Although Setien has penned a two-and-a-half-year deal at the Nou Camp, Hunter claims that former midfielder Xavi Hernandez, Ronald Koeman and Mauricio Pochettino were all approached before the club turned to the 61-year-old.
Speaking on Sky Sports’ Transfer Talk podcast , Hunter said: “They went out to Qatar to try and persuade Xavi, who they should have known wouldn’t come, couldn’t come.
“They tried to persuade Ronald Koeman, who had already told them previously he wouldn’t join them. He thinks he’ll coach the Netherlands to the European Championship and victory this summer.
“They sussed out what Mauricio Pochettino had previously said, that he’d rather go back and work on his farm in Argentina than go and coach Barcelona , they tried to persuade him.
“Quique Setien is an attractive coach with a [Johan] Cruyff mentality but he is fourth choice, at best. It has been a risible Keystone Cops affair from start to finish.”
Setien himself admitted that he was surprised to be offered the job during his first news conference, stating that his appointment was beyond his “wildest dreams.”
Former Barcelona midfielder Xavi was considered to be the favourite for the job after he confirmed that he met with club officials over the weekend.
And Hunter claimed that the 39-year-old, who currently manages Qatari side Al Sadd, could still return to the Camp Nou in the future.
“Xavi is very aligned to a presidential candidate who wants to take over the club when there are elections in 2021,” he added. “His name is Victor Font.
“They work together, they are a team. It is anticipated that is when Xavi will come back.
“This president, [Josep Maria] Bartomeu, went to Xavi to kind of say ‘Drop that, forget your friend, forget all your allegiances’.
“He also went to Xavi and said ‘Come now, forget the fact your Qatari team has got a cup final to play this Friday’. Something that he’s qualified them for. He’s been pretty successful in his first season in coaching in Qatar.
“It is no secret he’s paid gigantic sums to be there. The idea of persuading him to abandon his club, to abandon the huge contract he’s got and to abandon his friend Victor Font, who wants to take over in 2021.
“This was a mission that I think was absolutely doomed for failure.”
Setien is set to take charge of the La Liga leaders for the first time when they host Granada on Sunday.