The release clause that could scupper Barcelona's move for Roberto De Zerbi

  • Barcelona hunting for successor for departing manager Xavi
  • Brighton boss De Zerbi has been linked alongside Hansi Flick
  • Large release clause could put Barca off move for Italian
De Zerbi has been linked with the Barca job
De Zerbi has been linked with the Barca job / Mike Hewitt/GettyImages

Barcelona have been put off a move for Brighton & Hove Albion manager Roberto De Zerbi due to a hefty release clause, according to a report.

Current boss Xavi has confirmed he will step down at the end of the campaign, with Barca well off the La Liga title race pace set by rivals Real Madrid. They also trail Girona in second place and have work to do to reach the Champions League quarter-finals after a first-leg draw with Napoli.

They have been linked with a number of candidates for the job in Catalonia and De Zerbi is one of the names brought up on their shortlist of potential successors.

De Zerbi succeeded Graham Potter on the south coast and helped Brighton qualify for European football for the first time in their history. The Albion face Roma in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie on Thursday night.

The Italian has largely distanced himself from speculation and a report from Diario Sport adds the finances of a potential swoop may not prove feasible.

Roberto De Zerbi
De Zerbi has impressed during his time in England / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

De Zerbi is contracted until 2026 at the AMEX Stadium and the Seagulls will demand the full €15m (£12.8m) release clause to let the 44-year-old leave.

Xavi himself has played down the possibility of remaining in post beyond the 2023/24 term despite an upturn in results, while comments from sporting director Deco seemed to rule former Bayern Munich and Germany manager Hansi Flick out of the running.

Former Barca defender Rafael Marquez has also admitted he would not be able to turn down the chance to take over from Xavi if asked. The Mexico legend is currently a Barca Atletic coach.

While Xavi Alonso is also hot property as he leads Bayer Leverkusen towards the Bundesliga title, the Blaugrana are not expected to muscle their way into the conversation for the former Real Madrid and Spain midfielder.

Barca are unbeaten in their last six games in all competitions, picking up four wins in La Liga in that time, and are back in action on Sunday night when they visit Athletic Club.