Legendary midfielder Xavi Hernandez is returning home — back to Barcelona, where he dazzled and inspired during 17 trophy-filled seasons as a player — after Al Sadd, his current club in Qatar, confirmed on Friday that an agreement has been reached between the two clubs.
Xavi is expected to be announced as Ronald Koeman’s replacement at Barcelona as early as this weekend. Xavi has been in charge of Al Sadd since retiring as a player in 2019. Xavi and Barcelona president Joan Laporta reportedly held talks over a number of recent weeks as Koeman’s tenure spiraled toward an inevitable outcome.
What kind of football will Barcelona play under Xavi?
By all accounts, Xavi sees the game now just as he did when he was arguably the greatest central midfielder in the history of football — that is to say, militant about possession, passing, proper spacing and movement. Perhaps no player has better exemplified the tactical ideals of Barcelona in its history, so it’s only fitting that his Barcelona will attempt to play in such a way.
The task ahead of Xavi is, of course, incredibly difficult following the departure of Lionel Messi in the summer, along with the club’s crippling debt situation which will strictly their maneuverability in the transfer market for years to come.
No doubt, Xavi will look to build around highly touted and experienced (for their age) 18-year-olds Pedri, who many have compared to the new manager’s longtime friend and midfield mate Andres Iniesta, and Ansu Fati. Where the rest of a title-winning squad will come from, remains to be seen.
What does Pep Guardiola, Xavi’s mentor, think of the potential appointment?
Pep Guardiola managed Xavi for four seasons and has remained a mentor to his nine-years-younger protege since they went separate ways professionally in 2012. Asked about the reports of Xavi’s impending appointment on Friday, the current Manchester City manager had the following to say:
“Xavi, if it happens, I don’t have any doubts that he’s ready to do the job. He knows the environment which is so important. He knows the game, he has passion. He has more experience now that I had when I took over. If Xavi is the next manager, I wish him all the best and hopefully step by step the team can come back.”