Barcelona legend and current Al-Sadd coach Xavi Hernandez confessed that his dream is to coach his former club, amid reports of current talks between the 39-year-old and the La Liga champions.
“I can’t deny that my dream is to coach Barcelona,” Xavi said on Saturday after leading his side to the Qatari cup final. “I’ve said it so many times, in a lot of interviews. Everyone knows that I’m a Barcelona fan, the club are in my heart and my dreams. But for now I’m focused on Al-Sadd.”
Current manager Ernesto Valverde is facing pressure at the Blaugrana after a late collapse against Atletico Madrid in the semifinals of the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia on Thursday. It’s the 55-year-old’s second consecutive poor result, with Barcelona dropping points against rivals and league-worst Espanyol in their last La Liga bout.
Barcelona’s Director of Football – and former teammate of Xavi – Eric Abidal and CEO Oscar Grau traveled to Doha, Qatar to meet with Xavi on Friday and watched Al-Sadd’s semi-final win on Saturday, which booked the club a spot in the final. Xavi, however, was tight-lipped about discussing what was said during their meeting.
“Abidal is my friend,” Xavi added, “I’ve met with him a lot of times. I respect Barcelona, I respect Valverde and I respect my contract. I’m doing my job here. I’ve been focussing on the semi-final and now I’m thinking about the final. I’m very happy to be coaching Al-Sadd and I respect this club a lot. I can’t say anything else.”
On Saturday, Al-Sadd confirmed that negotiations between Xavi and Barcelona for the former midfielder to return to Spain are ongoing. The Qatari club has dismissed the reports in the past, but Al-Sadd sporting director, Ghulam Al Balushi, confirmed otherwise following the game.
“There are negotiations between Xavi and Barcelona now and we wish him the best of luck wherever he goes,” Al Balushi expressed to Alkass.
A graduate from La Masia, Xavi spent 24 years at Barcelona, accumulating over 700 appearances and lifting eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues.
After the break for the 2022 World Cup, the Premier League returned with a bang and the start to 2023 delivered plenty of fun and it continued into the business end of the season.
Manchester City chased down Arsenal to win yet another Premier League title. Manchester United’s new-look side reclaimed a place in the top four, and so did Newcastle. Brighton and Aston Villa surprised by qualifying for Europe, while Liverpool dips into an unusual competition for its recent standards.
Teams were relegated. Managers were sacked. And here’s how the table looked when all was said and done.
Leicester City has been relegated to the Championship despite getting the win it needed to have hope of survival: a 2-1 defeat of West Ham United at the King Power Stadium on Championship Sunday.
Leicester entered the day two points back of Everton for 17th place on the Premier League table and got goals from Harvey Barnes and Wout Faes to secure three points, but Everton outlasted Bournemouth 1-0 to match the Foxes and keep them below the dreaded line.
Leicester finishes its season with 34 points in 18th place on the Premier League table.
West Ham, on the other hand, will be forgiven for focusing on the Europa Conference League Final but fought hard for an equalizer even though it only found a Pablo Fornals marker after Leicester had gone ahead two. The Irons finish 14th with 40 points.
“Too little, too late” may go down as the story of the Foxes season.
Leicester did not get its recruitment plans correct — somewhat forced by Financial Fair Play — and then put too much faith in Brendan Rodgers to make things work.
Dean Smith got some performances out of this men, few better than Sunday, but this ultimately feels like a fait accompli:Sometimes, the whole is less than the sum of its parts. Despite big seasons from Harvey Barnes and James Maddison, this was that.
There’s also the question of playing for a draw against Newcastle on Monday, but let’s not heap criticism on Dean Smith for taking a calculated risk. He deserves better.
Leicester vs West Ham player ratings: Stars of the Show
Harvey Barnes goal video: Leicester lifeline!
Wout Faes goal video: Foxes double the lead
Pablo Fornals goal video: Irons pull one back
How to watch Leicester vs West Ham live, stream link and start time
Leicester would love to see Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall and Wilfred Ndidi pass fitness checks, but Dean Smith will have rested and ready Harvey Barnes and James Maddison in a bid to score more goals than the Irons.
West Ham could be seeing the penultimate appearance of Declan Rice in an Irons shirt, as the big-money midfielder is being linked to several big clubs in the Premier League.
Leicester team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: James Justin (calf), Jannik Vestergaard (calf), Wilfred Ndidi (thigh), Caglar Soyuncu (thigh), Ryan Bertrand (other)
Tied at 0-0 from the first leg of the final in San Nicolas on Thursday, the advantage is with red-hot Chivas as their stunning recent form saw them win their final four games of the Clausura regular season to finish third in the table before beating Atlas and Club America in the playoffs.
Victor Guzman and Alexis Vega are Chivas’ main attacking threats as they will keep it tight defensively and the energy of the home crowd at Akron Stadium should be a huge help as Chivas aim to win their first Clausura title since 2017, when they also beat Tigres in the final.
Tigres finished seventh in the Clausura standings and beat Toluca and Monterrey to reach the final. The duo of Sebastian Cordova and Andre-Pierre Gignac are their main hope of winning on the road in Guadalajara and lifting the trophy.
Below is everything you need for Chivas vs Tigres, one of whom will be crowned as the Clausura champions on Sunday.
Harry Kane scored twice more to complete his second 30-goal season, as Tottenham (60 points – 8th place) missed out on the Premier League’s final European place with Aston Villa beating 6th-place Brighton to qualify for the Europa Conference League. Now, a painfully pivotal summer of hirings and signings awaits for Spurs.
It was a nightmare start for Leeds, who needed not only a victory of their own but also points to be dropped by both Everton and Leicester above them. Tottenham’s first foray into Leeds’ penalty area ended with Kane hammering the ball past Joel Robles.
New half, same story for Leeds, who conceded once again barely a minute into the second half. Kane turned provider this time, as he lofted a blind ball into the channel for the overlapping Pedro Porro, who barely had a sight of goal with Robles smothering the near post. But, Porro placed a pinpoint strike just inside the far post from a tight angle.
Leeds gave themselves a faint hope when he slotted home after Georginio Rutter picked him out between two defenders in the 67th minute, but Kane answered just two minutes later with his second of the day and the 280th — and potentially final — goal of his Tottenham career.
“Everyone connected with Leeds United is deeply disappointed by the club’s relegation back to the Sky Bet Championship, after three seasons in the Premier League.
“Relegation is painful, and we apologize to our fanbase that the performances this season have not seen the club consolidate our status as we had all hoped.
“However, Leeds United remains in a strong position to build a team that can challenge for promotion from the Championship next season.
“We know things have not been good enough, we know we have to improve, but please be assured that behind the scenes we have worked hard to ensure that the past will not be repeated. Our focus is now on how we get straight back to the Premier League.
“Thank you for your unwavering support for the players and the badge, our objective is to continue to build the club into the one you deserve.”
Stars of the show
Leeds vs Tottenham, final score: 1-4
2nd minute – Harry Kane hammers home Tottenham’s opening goal
A nightmare start for Leeds as Harry Kane scores within the first two minutes of the match.
Leeds have had plenty of time opportunities to drag themselves out of the bottom-three and away from the relegation scrap as a whole, but they are now winless in their last eight games (0W-2D-6L) and have won just three of their last 24. Their biggest problem? The Premier League’s worst defensive record in 2022-23 — 74 goals conceded in 37 games. In each of the last four seasons, the side to concede the most goals has been relegated.
With another summer of uncertainty (from the manager to most of the first-team squad) on the cards for Spurs, Sunday could be the final time Harry Kane pulls on the white shirt of Tottenham, following reports this week that he will ask — or perhaps has already asked — to leave the club if a fair offer is made. Kane’s 278 goals make him the club’s all-time record goal scorer, and his departure could signal a full-blown tear-down and rebuild for the incoming manager still to be hired.
Leeds team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Tyler Adams (hamstring – out for season), Luis Sinisterra (ankle – out for season), Patrick Bamford (thigh)