Barcelona part ways with Xavi a month after coach had reversed decision to step down | Football News - Hindustan Times
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Barcelona part ways with Xavi a month after coach had reversed decision to step down

AP |
May 24, 2024 08:18 PM IST

In the latest, and most likely final, twist to the bumpy season with Xavi in charge, Barcelona announced Friday that the club would be making a coaching change.

First, he wanted out. Then he opted to stay. Finally, Barcelona said enough is enough and decided to part ways.

Barcelona's Xavi Hernandez during 2023/24 season(AP)
Barcelona's Xavi Hernandez during 2023/24 season(AP)

One month after Xavi Hernández said he would continue on as Barcelona coach despite a disappointing season, the Spanish club told the former midfield great it did not want him back.

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In the latest, and most likely final, twist to the bumpy season with Xavi in charge, Barcelona announced Friday that the club would be making a coaching change for next season.

The Spanish club made the announcement after a meeting between club president Joan Laporta, Xavi and several other senior figures at the team’s training ground.

The club said Laporta “has informed Xavi Hernández that he will not be continuing as first team coach in the 2024-25 season.”

Xavi led Barcelona to the Spanish league title last season, but his team has struggled this campaign that it will finish without a title and a distant second to champion Real Madrid.

His departure comes after Xavi had reversed a previous decision made in January to leave the club this summer and not complete the last year of his contract. In April, the 44-year-old Xavi said that he had changed his mind after his players showed him that they believed in the team’s potential and had improved their performances.

During that interlude when it seemed Xavi was the one who wanted out, Barcelona sports director Deco said the club was not looking for a new coach. And when Xavi said he was walking back his plan to step down, an emotional Laporta gave a news conference with his coach to tell Barcelona's fans that they must be “proud” to have Xavi in charge of the team.

But Laporta had reportedly been displeased by Xavi’s recent comments in a news conference that Barcelona’s poor financial situation would make it nearly impossible to compete against Real Madrid and Europe’s other top clubs.

After the rumors started in local media that Laporta was considering firing the former midfielder, Xavi said he was motivated to continue coaching his boyhood team and was convinced that he could still help it win titles.

As recently as last weekend, Xavi said “I have the support of the president and Deco, our sports director.”

It appears that Laporta's support was fleeting, at best.

Spanish and German media speculated that Barcelona could hire former Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick as Xavi’s replacement.

As a player, Xavi left Barcelona in 2015 after helping the club win 25 titles, including four Champions Leagues and eight Spanish leagues. He was also key to Spain’s streak of titles when it won the 2010 World Cup and European Championships in 2008 and 2012.

Laporta brought Xavi back from his only prior coaching job in Qatar in November 2021 to lead his rebuilding project of a club that had just lost Messi amid a financial crisis.

The following summer the club to sold off future television revenues and other club assets, which Laporta dubbed financial “levers,” to sign Robert Lewandowski and other players. Xavi was able to win the club's first titles since Messi's departure and the future looked bright.

This season, however, Barcelona lost all three ‘clasico’ matches against Madrid and was thumped twice by upstart Catalan rival Girona, losing both of their league matchups 4-2. It also lost in the quarterfinals of both the Champions League and the Copa del Rey.

Whoever takes over for Xavi will have the tricky task of managing a team with bright young talents like Lamine Yamal and Gavi Páez but very limited financial resources.

After flirting with bankruptcy under Laporta's predecessor, Barcelona is still struggling financially and has had its salary cap greatly reduced in recent seasons. It can only spend some 204 million euros ($221 million) on players and coaching staff, including salaries and transfer payments, compared to Madrid’s 727 million euros ($788 million).

Barcelona has tried to sell Netherlands midfielder Frenkie de Jong and is likely to look to shed salaries. So it is not unthinkable that Lewandowski or goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen could be for sale.

Xavi’s last game in charge will be Sunday’s away game against Sevilla on the final day of the league season.

Sevilla coach Quique Sánchez Flores said Friday that he would give Xavi “a big hug” when their teams meet.

“I shouldn’t say this, but look how poorly Barcelona treats its club legends,” Sánchez Flores said.

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