Hopefully Xavi gets the majority of his post-Barca tears out of his system before Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final, but there’s no denying that leaving Barcelona is not easy for Mr. Hernandez.
The legendary midfielder hasn’t even played his final match for the Blaugranas, but couldn’t stop the tears as the club bid him adieu ahead of Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final against Juventus.
Xavi, 35, is off to prop up the profile of Qatari soccer with a gig at Al Saad that will pay him well over the next three years, but the Barca legend hasn’t yet come to terms with his departure from the Camp Nou.
Al Saad is the club he’s joining, not his alter ego during his final days at Barca.
‘Captain, team-mate and friend. We can’t imagine the first work out of next season without you. It’s been a privilege to play alongside you,’ he said.
‘Thanks, Xavi, for always being an example, for always putting the group before yourself. Thanks for all your advice. Thank you Xavi, for all those years, for all the talks, about football and other things. Those who know you know you will be back.’
Xavi is the longest serving and most decorated Barca player, having joined at the age of 11, and he eventually took to the stage to pay tribute to the club.
‘I want to thank every member and every fan, I’m very grateful,’ he said at the event.
‘The trophies are nothing compared to the laughs I had here and the friends I’m leaving behind.’
So… don’t go?
We kid (sort of). Xavi’s 43 appearances this season were his fewest since 2005-06, when he tore ligaments in his knee. It’d be nice to see him continue his ride off into the sunset as a one-club man, something akin to what Paul Scholes or Ryan Giggs did, especially given that Barca’s transfer ban runs through January.
The club saluted him with its own hashtag #6raciesXavi (Get it?), which begs whether it’s a more clever use than the Landon Donovan #LegenD tag (This is one area where we think the Galaxy wins over Barca).