the essential Barça player during 17 professional seasons, the Catalan is on the point of taking the reins of the “blaugrana”. He has since 2019 coach of the Qatari team Al Sadd, which announces this Friday an agreement with Barcelona.
In a statement, Al Sadd clarified that Barcelona had paid the departure clause of whoever had been their coach since 2019.
Turki Al-Ali: The #AlSadd administration has agreed on Xavi’s move to Barcelona after the payment of the release clause stipulated in the contract. We’ve agreed on cooperation with Barcelona in the future. Xavi is an important part of Al-Sadd’s history and we wish him success. pic.twitter.com/3FvCOdYl5X
— ud 83 c udfc6 # 76 Al Sadd SC | نادي السد (@AlsaddSC) November 5, 2021
Expected like the messiah in Barcelona, the former glory of the club should take over from Ronald Koeman for an immense challenge: to rebuild a team in ruins to raise it again to the heights, even as the club is faced with significant financial difficulties.
For Xavi, it’s a homecoming. He will replace Sergi Barjuan, who was in the interim.
After a game of seduction that lasted several years, the marriage will finally be celebrated between FC Barcelona and one of the men who best embodies the club. A union awaited by a large fringe of Blaugrana supporters.
After leaving Barcelona in 1990, the brilliant midfielder took charge of Al Sadd, Qatar, where he ended his career. player (2015 – 2015) before starting immediate retraining as a coach. After two years at the head of the Qatari club, he has already won the championship, the national cup and the Qatari Supercup.
But above all, in a short period of time, Xavi managed to install in Qatar principles of play that are dear to him. Those learned in the ranks of Masia, the prestigious Catalan training center, and refined with a trainer like Pep Guardiola: a possession game, made of short passes in small spaces. In short, the basics of “tiki-taka”, the famous Catalan game launched by the icon Johan Cruyff in the years 550.
Contacted in January 2020 to replace Ernesto Valverde on the Barcelona bench, then the following summer to succeed Quique Setién, Xavi has so far always declined offers from the club, refusing to take charge of a team without a clear project and without a fixed course, but each time reiterating his love for his club at heart.
“I’m not hiding it, and I’ve always said it, my main goal, when it can be done, is Barça. It’s my home, and it would be a dream,” Xavi said in an interview in the daily Marca, in July 2019.
“I always said that Xavi would one day end up coaching Barça. Better still: I would like him to be Barça coach under my presidency. What I don’t know is when,” recently supported President Joan Laporta.
In May, Xavi had extended his two-year contract with Al Sadd, until 2021. But Barça’s call was too strong. The challenge is appealing, but the site remains immense. Xavi will have to tune his violins with Laporta, and above all to deal with the enormous financial worries that plague the Catalan club, in debt of more than a billion euros.
On the pitch, his objectives are clear: sportingly, Barça, current 9th in Liga, nine points behind Real Sociedad and eight from their great rival, Real Madrid, must at all costs return to the top of the standings. He must also try to ensure a qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League, despite the two initial slaps received against Bayern Munich at Camp Nou (3-0) and against Benfica in Lisbon (3-0). But above all, Xavi must restore his playing identity to the club blaugrana, based on the young golden generation that emerges, with, at the head of the gondola, the prodigies Ansu Fati, Pedri and Gavi, and other precocious talents like Segiño Dest or Frenkie de Jong.
The difficulty for the “Maquina” (the Machine, in Spanish) will be to achieve all this without coming into conflict with her friends from the old Catalan guard who are reaching the end of their career: the Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba and other Sergio Busquets. And he will have to deal with the shadow of his former teammate Lionel Messi, who left for Paris Saint-Germain last summer and for whom Barça is still struggling to mourn.
If Koeman was the one who laid the foundations for post-Messi Barça, Xavi will have to be the architect who will definitely turn the page, to write a new one.