Barcelona have reached out to Belgium boss Roberto Martinez over potentially replacing under-fire boss Ronald Koeman in the coming weeks.
Sources have confirmed to 90min that Barcelona are ready to sack Koeman and are already working on doing so, but they are reluctant to pull the trigger until they have a permanent manager lined up to replace him.
Koeman is not expected to still be in his job after the October international break and may have already had his last match in the dugout as he is currently serving a two-match suspension for being sent off in the 0-0 draw with Cadiz.
Talks are underway to find a replacement and Goal state that Martinez has already been contacted to gauge his interest in the position.
There have been no formal negotiations, but Barcelona have made it clear to Martinez that he is their preferred target for the job, and the Spaniard has confessed to those in the Belgium hierarchy that him leaving for Barcelona is a real possibility.
Martinez is under contract with Belgium until the conclusion of the 2022 World Cup, but the idea of him leaving sooner has been informally discussed – although the former Everton boss has stressed that he would not walk away until after the Nations League finals next month.
Belgium will meet France in the semi-final of the competition on October 7, with a spot in the final three days later against Italy or Spain on the line.
Barcelona are open to waiting until the competition is over, at which point they would have to pay a compensation fee of around €1.5m (£1.3m) to buy Martinez out of his contract with the Red Devils.
It’s stressed that these discussions have not been formalised just yet and Barcelona are still looking at other candidates, but president Joan Laporta and a number of his boardroom staff are close with Martinez on a personal level and are exploring using that to their advantage.
Other targets, such as Andrea Pirlo, Antonio Conte and Xavi Hernandez have been discussed, but Martinez is seen as the preferred candidate as it stands.