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After impending Barca exit, Jonatan Giraldez is favorite for NWSL’s Spirit job: sources

Rafa Huerta/SPP

FC Barcelona coach Jonatan Giraldez confirmed on Monday that he will leave his post as head coach at the end of the European season in spring 2024. A source with knowledge of the negotiations said Giraldez is expected to be the new head coach of the National Women’s Soccer League’s Washington Spirit. Spanish outlet Revelo first reported the news.

Giraldez and Barcelona confirmed the coach’s departure at a press conference on Monday.

“I can only say it’s outside of Europe,” Giraldez said of the opportunity that drew him away from Barcelona. “I would not want to compete against Barça.”

Revelo reported that the Spirit offered to quintuple the salary Giraldez was making at Barcelona. (The Equalizer could not independently confirm that figure.)

Giraldez took over as head coach of Barcelona in 2021, guiding the Spanish giants to league titles in each of his first two seasons in charge. Barcelona won the UEFA Champions League last season, defeating VfL Wolfsburg in the final. The previous season, Barcelona lost in the Champions League final to French giants Lyon.

Giraldez is one of three finalists for FIFA best women’s coaching award. The winner will be announced on Jan. 15.

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Washington has been in search of a head coach for the past two months. The Spirit, guided by president of soccer operations and general manager Mark Krikorian, fired Mark Parsons as head coach in October after only one season. The Spirit finished in eighth place, missing the NWSL playoffs.

Sources told The Equalizer that Parsons’ more direct style of play for the Spirit did not match Krikorian’s vision for a possession-oriented team. Giraldez appears to be an answer to that after an extensive, mysterious search.

Giraldez’s prospective start date with the Spirit is unclear. NWSL preseason is slated to begin in late January, with first kick on the weekend of March 15. Spain’s Liga F season runs until mid-June. The Champions League final, should Barcelona reach it again, will be played on May 25 in Bilbao.

Giraldez said in his press conference on Monday that he wanted to give Barcelona ample time to prepare for his departure.

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