Former Scotland international Shaun Maloney could be in line for a stunning move to Barcelona after the Catalan giants reportedly made ex-Motherwell star Roberto Martinez their number one target to replace Ronald Koeman at the Nou Camp.
Maloney, who has worked alongside Martinez as part of the Belgian national team’s coaching set-up since 2018, would be a likely candidate to follow the ex-Motherwell star to Barcelona – although Martinez was coy when quizzed in the speculation.
“Well as you can imagine there is nothing, nothing to comment for me,” the Belgium boss told Eurosport.
“Obviously rumours, they are always there, it’s normal in football.
“When you lose three games the rumours are that you are going to lose your job. When things are going well, you are doing good results, the rumours will always be there, but it’s nothing for me to comment on at this point.”
Barca currently sit seventh in La Liga, seven points behind leaders Real Madrid, and drew with minnows Cadiz last night as their poor start to life after Lionel Messi continues.
Since taking charge of the Belgian national team, Martinez led them to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but only reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 – going out to eventual winners Italy after a fairly lacklustre campaign.
At club level, the Spaniard has managed Swansea, Wigan and Everton, completing a shock FA Cup win with the Latics in 2013 before replacing Davie Moyes at Goodison Park.
Maloney’s only coaching experience at senior level has come with the Belgian squad, although the former Scotland star also spent time coaching within Celtic’s Academy.
A possible move more Martinez and his staff is complicated by Barcelona cannot sack Koeman without paying out around £10million (€12m) to the 58-year-old; which includes paying up his contract as well as a compensation package that Koeman had to pay to the KNVB when he quit as Dutch manager to take over at the Nou Camp at the start of last season.
NTOF now offers a YouTube channel featuring exclusive interviews, post-match discussion, in-depth debate, and much more – LIKE and SUBSCRIBE and don’t miss any of our videos.