Xavi

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Xavi Hernandez to coach Qatari champion Al-Sadd

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DOHA, Qatar (AP) Barcelona great Xavi Hernandez will begin his coaching career with Qatari club Al-Sadd.

Al-Sadd says Xavi is taking charge of the team he helped become Qatari league champion this season.

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The 39-year-old midfielder played four seasons with Al-Sadd after a storied 17-year career with Barcelona.

Xavi played a club record 767 games for Barcelona and helped the club win four Champions Leagues and eight Spanish leagues. He also played in Spain’s title-winning teams at the 2010 World Cup and 2008 and 2012 European Championships.

Al-Sadd says Xavi’s squad will gather in Barcelona in July for a pre-season training camp in the Catalonia region.

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Barcelona legend Xavi announces retirement

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Xavi Hernandez’s trophy-filled career has come to an end.

The veteran Spanish midfielder and Barcelona legend confirmed this morning that this past season in Qatar was his final as a player. Xavi’s Al-Sadd won the 22-game league season with 18 wins, 57 points and just one defeat.

“It’s been a privilege to play until the age of 39,” Xavi said, via Barcelona’s website. “This 2018/19 season will be my last as a player, but I hope the future offers the chance to be a coach.”

Xavi has been working as a player and youth coach since joining Al-Sadd in 2015 after winning the UEFA Champions League, and he’s expecting to become a coach full-time heading into the future.

“I like to see teams take the initiative on the field,” Xavi said. “To play attacking football, and to demonstrate the essence of what we all have loved since our infancy: possession-based football.”

Xavi finishes his career as one of the most decorated players in the history of soccer. Let’s split it up between club and country.

Born in Catalonia, Xavi joined La Masia in 1991. After rising through the ranks, he finally made his first team debut for Barcelona in a Copa Catalunya match late in the 1997-1998 season. That fall into the next season, Xavi, then just 18-years old, made his first team debut and became the breakthrough player of the season, playing under Louis Van Gaal.

Xavi went on to spend 17 seasons in Barcelona’s first team. He won La Liga eight times. He won the Copa del Rey three times, and the Spanish Super Cup another six occasions. On the European front, Xavi won the Champions League four times, the UEFA Super Cup twice and the FIFA Club World Cup twice. In Qatar, this was the first season Al-Sadd had won the title with him, making him go out a champion.

Internationally, Xavi helped Spain finally overcome its own shortcomings in midfield and led them to a four-year run with some of the most success anyone has ever seen. Xavi and Spain won the 2008 and 2012 European Championships, and sandwiched in between was the 2010 World Cup victory, winning the soccer-mad nation’s first World Cup.

Xavi is one of the last few nearly one-club players, spending nearly his whole professional career at Barcelona. One will always wonder how he would have done had he come to the Premier League or to MLS later in his career. However, his time at Barcelona provided some of the most beautiful soccer people have ever seen, and his career as a player will not soon be forgotten.

Pochettino calls out Xavi for Dele Alli-Man City “lie to lie to lie”

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“He tried to destroy our focus to win because he hates me because he’s Barcelona.”

Even half-kidding, the Derby Barceloni is alive and well for longtime Espanyol man Mauricio Pochettino and Barcelona legend Xavi.

At least that’s why the latter is trying to sabotage the former’s Premier League title fight, Pochettino says.

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Speaking from his club team in Qatar, Xavi claimed that Manchester City is going to bid high for Spurs’ young star Dele Alli.

Tottenham boss Pochettino says that’s just not true. Pochettino was joking a bit when he answered questions on the topic, but then told a story about Xavi diving for a penalty in the derby. Here are a few of his thoughts, from The Telegraph:

“It wasn’t a penalty but Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored for Barcelona and they won the game. After in the replay it was very funny because it was clear no one touched him. Come on! It goes from lie to lie to lie.”

“He is working for Manchester City, maybe? He wants to help Guardiola and [Vincent] Kompany.”

Xavi backs Dybala, Verratti to succeed at Barcelona over Pogba

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With Paul Pogba linked with a possible summer move to Barcelona worth more than $100 million, one legend at Camp Nou believes Pogba may not be the right signing.

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After making more than 700 appearances for Barcelona, Xavi knows the club as well as anyone, and he prefers Pogba’s Juventus teammate Paulo Dybala for a move to the Catalan giants.

Xavi also praised the play of Paris Saint-Germain’s Marco Verratti, saying that while Pogba is a star player, Dybala and Verratti have “Barca DNA.”

There’s two players I really like, both of whom I think have Barca’s DNA. They are Marco Verratti and Paulo Dybala.

They are amazing and, thanks to their quality and style of play, would easily integrate into the [Barca] machine. I see them as future stars at the club.

[Pogba] is a great player. He’ll be a star for France as he is for Juve, but I see him with a different game to ours.

Both Pogba and Dybala are 22-years-old, while Verratti is 23. All three players have been among the elite young talents in the world, with Pogba earning the most praise of the group and always linked with a big-money move to Europe’s top clubs.

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Dybala is enjoying a breakout season at Juventus, currently with 13 goals and eight assists in Serie A play. In Paris, Verratti is part of a PSG side that hasn’t lost in 25 matches and holds a 24-point lead at the top of the table.

Xavi after meeting Louis van Gaal: “Who is this idiot?”

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It’s safe to say Xavi Hernandez was not initially impressed when Louis Van Gaal was named Barcelona’s head coach.

Okay, that’s an understatement.

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Xavi, 35, now plays in Qatar for Al Saad but the Barca legend was given his debut for the Catalan club by van Gaal back in 1998 and he went on to captain the side on numerous occasions and became a key cog in their huge success over the last decade which has seen them dominate Europe and Spain.

Speaking to ESPN about his first impressions of LVG, Xavi was taken aback but soon realized the Dutchman was different… and that was okay.

“After two days of training under him, I thought, ‘Who is this idiot?’ After a week, I thought, ‘He’s right.’ He’ll always be in my heart, Louis van Gaal,” Xavi said. “He is a good person, a very good trainer. He has a very strong character, but he’s calm in the Premier League because there’s less pressure.

“He’s much calmer than when he was at Barca or Bayern. He’s honest, methodical and a real perfectionist. He’s very demanding, he’s strict and he wants to achieve the highest levels possible.”

We all know that LVG is well, particular, but the fact that he handed Xavi his debut and saw something special in not only him but a raft of other young stars coming through Barca’s academy speaks volumes considering the success they had. These comments from one of the greatest midfielders of all-time also let’s us in on the obscure approach to coaching and man-management van Gaal has and how that often rubs certain players the wrong way.

[ MORE: Ramires believes Chelsea will turn things around ]

You’re either with him or against him, and after initial disdain, Xavi was definitely on board.

Now, can the same be said for Robin Van Persie, Angel di Maria and other former players at Manchester United? The ruthless way in which LVG decimated United’s squad and rebuilt the team over the past 18 months has been radical but, when you sit back and think about it, much needed, and when you have outstanding talents like Xavi backing you and success at Ajax, Barca and Bayern Munich on your resume, it’s hard to argue with LVG’s abrupt but successful methods.

United’s fans and players will certainly be able to handle LVG’s brashness if he delivers success and trophies at Old Trafford the season and next before his three-year deal runs out in 2017.