Pep Guardiola’s assistant manager linked with Barcelona hotseat as Koeman feels pressure

Pep Guardiola’s right-hand man is being linked with five-time Champions League winners Barcelona, with Ronald Koeman under pressure.

Manchester City assistant manager Juan Manuel Lillo has been linked with managing Spanish giants Barcelona.

Managers are being linked to the role, despite Ronald Koeman still officially in the post, but his position is untenable and he is expected to leave shortly.

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Barca currently sit in sixth in La Liga, unbeaten from six matches, however three of those have been draws. In midweek, they suffered a 3-0 loss to Benfica, their second in the Champions League this season.

With the search underway, Belgium manager Roberto Martinez and club legend Xavi are the front-runners but now Lillo has emerged as a contender according to reports in Catalonia.

Two reports from Sport and Mundo Deportivo, two papers that are based in Barcelona, have put him in the mix with the two aforementioned names, as well as Andrea Pirlo and Marcelo Gallardo, the current maanger of River Plate.

The 55-year-old took the place of Mikel Arteta, who left the Etihad to become manager of Arsenal in 2020. Lillo has previous experience of managing in Spain, having once been the youngest coach in the division’s history, managing the likes of Zaragoza, Real Sociedad and Almeira.

Since his arrival at City, he helped Pep to a League and League Cup double, as well as reaching the Champions League final.

Lillo has been in management for over 37-years but as his own man has not led any team to success at top-level management, which would make an appointment at Barca a quite left-field appointment.

He did however manage Pep Guardiola during their time in Mexico, which prompted Pep to reunite with him.

Despite the speculation, Lillo is expected to be in the dugout with Guardiola on Sunday when Manchester City take on Liverpool in the Premier League.

Meanwhile, Koeman is consigned to his departure from the Nou Camp.

Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of the trip to Atlético Madrid, he said: “It is a complicated situation.

“The president was here this morning, but I didn’t see him because I was preparing for the game.

“Nobody has told me anything, but I have eyes and ears and I know that things are being leaked. They are probably true, but nobody has told me.”