After months of speculation linking him with moves to both Qatar and Major League Soccer, FC Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernández appears to be inching closer to the United States. According to reports out of Spain, the 34-year-old playmaker is set to “imminently” leave the only club he’s ever know, with 2015 Major League Soccer expansion franchise New York City FC his expected destination.
[RELATED: Xavi set for NYC FC deal ]
NYC FC has already signed former Barcelona forward David Villa and is expected to add former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard, but the acquisition of Hernández may be the impending superclub’s biggest get, with the Catalan midfielder recognized as one of the best central midfielders of his generation.
After debuting with Barcelona’s senior team in 1998, Hernández went on to win six league titles with the Blaugrana, capturing three UEFA Champions Leagues and two FIFA Club World Cups in the process. Over the course of 16 seasons, Xavi make 723 appearances for Barcelona, scoring 83 goals.
[RELATED: David Villa signs for NYC FC]
For his country, Hernández has been capped 133 times, winning two European championships and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
“The winningest player in club history will head to New York, into the open arms of New York City FC … both the player and Barça claim nothing will happen until Thursday, the day the player is supposed to return to training after the World Cup …
So next Thursday, the apparent ‘D-Day’ on Xavi’s future, is not just in the works, but it’s the day his move the New York club will be completed. Barça wants it and Xavi want it. The only thing left is a settlement and a tribute match for one of the most prolific players in the history of the Catalan club.”
[RELATED: Lampard agrees to join New York City ]
That Xavi-to-New York has been rumored since the end of La Liga’s season gives this report a feeling of inevitability, but without confirmation from New York City FC, Barcelona, Major League Soccer, or Hernández, there still room for doubt. If every player linked with Major League Soccer arrived in North America, the league would have burst out of its adolescence long ago.
Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo, however, is moving forward with full confidence. After reporting the news on their site on Monday, they’ve put Xavi on the cover of their Tuesday print edition. The headline: Goodbye Xavi.