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Barcelona hand Liverpool boost as they pick new boss after Champions League exit

MIRROR 

Barcelona are ready to abandon their pursuit of Liverpool target Ruben Amorim and appoint club legend Rafa Marquez as their next manager.

Marquez, 45, has been in charge of Barca’s B team for the past two seasons, having won two Champions League titles and four La Ligas as a player. With current boss Xavi leaving his post at the end of this season, the former Mexico defender has been named ‘The Chosen One’ by Barcelona chiefs and has already expressed a willingness to take the job.

That leaves Liverpool with less competition for Amorim, who’s on course to guide Sporting Lisbon to their second league title win in just four full seasons under his stewardship. The 39-year-old Portuguese recently denied reaching a verbal agreement to replace Jurgen Klopp at Anfield, although his rebuttal hasn’t put a lid on speculation that he’ll be leaving Lisbon this summer to join one of Europe’s elite clubs.

It was recently reported that Barca had ramped up their pursuit of Amorim, identifying the ex-Benfica midfielder as the ideal successor to Xavi. Names such as Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi and former Bayern Munich and Germany boss Hansi Flick have also been frequently mentioned but Amorim had been emerging as the frontrunner.

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