Xavi confirms Barca talks as dream job looms

Xavi Hernandez, 39, is seven months into his first managerial role at Qatari side Al Sadd.
Xavi Hernandez, 39, is seven months into his first managerial role at Qatari side Al Sadd. PHOTO: REUTERS

BARCELONA • Barcelona great Xavi Hernandez has said it is his dream to coach his former side after his current club, Qatari outfit Al Sadd, confirmed that their manager was in negotiations with the La Liga champions.

The former Spain midfielder, who lifted 25 trophies in a 17-year spell at the Nou Camp, has been linked with a return to the Catalan giants since they were beaten 3-2 by Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals of the Spanish Super Cup on Thursday.

Although Barcelona remain top of the Spanish league on goal difference and have qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League, coach Ernesto Valverde remains under intense pressure following successive European failures in the past two campaigns.

Their latest Cup exit, which follows their Copa del Rey final defeat by Valencia in May, has led fans to clamour for a change in the dugout and Xavi appears to be the overwhelming favourite to take over the reins.

There are, however, conflicting reports on whether the appointment - a two-and-a-half-year deal has been offered - is imminent.

According to Spanish daily AS, Barcelona have sounded out the 2010 World Cup winner on replacing Valverde next season.

However, Barcelona-based daily Sport has said the board aim to sack Valverde today, paving the way for Xavi's return after Al Sadd play their Qatar Cup final against Al-Duhail on Friday.

The 39-year-old was seen with sporting director Eric Abidal and chief executive Oscar Grau over the weekend and did not quell the speculation over his future on Saturday night by revealing to reporters he "cannot say anything".

"They were here to talk to me and we discussed many things. Sorry I cannot give any more information," Xavi, who is just over seven months into his first managerial role, said.

"I've said it many times in many interviews, everyone knows I support Barcelona from the bottom of my heart.

"But I'm doing my job here, I'm doing my best. I was focused on the (Qatar Cup) semi-final and now I'm focusing on the final."

In response to the rumours, Al Sadd's sporting director Muhammad Ghulam Al Balushi said "we wish him success wherever he decides to go".

Their general manager, Turki Al-Ali, also added it was "normal and expected" for Xavi to be linked to the Spanish champions as "it's his first home and he must return there in the future".

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2020, with the headline 'Xavi confirms Barca talks as dream job looms'. Print Edition | Subscribe