Xavi is the new coach of Barcelona: who is Xavi and why he is perfect for the giant of La Liga


It’s almost official: Xavi will return to Barcelona as the club’s new permanent manager, taking over from Ronald Koeman who was fired after a challenging start to the new season. He makes the move from the Qatari club Al Sadd che confirmed his departure in a statement. Barcelona have yet to confirm this.

“The club administration has approved the transfer of Xavi to Barcelona after the payment of the value of the penalty clause provided for in his contract”, reads the statement from Al Sadd. “Xavi is considered an important part of our history and we wish him every success in the future.”

41-year-old Xavi was one of the stars of the Barcelona team that dominated world football and won a trophy hat-trick twice, thrilling fans with his style of play under the guidance of Pep Guardiola. While Lionel Messi has often claimed the headlines, it was the central midfield with Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets that was the heart of those teams.

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Now Xavi becomes Barcelona manager after Koeman’s 14-month reign ended after the defeat of Barça at Rayo Vallecano on 27 October, with the Dutch tactician failing to convince the Camp Nou management of his long-term worth for the cause. Assistant Sergi Barjuan has since been replaced on an interim basis.

The managerial change comes in a season in which Barcelona are facing financial challenges caused by the last few years of mismanagement. The purse strings have stretched, preventing him from recruiting the club icon Messi again during the summer and limiting player spending on the market. The situation has increased the club’s dependence on youth products emerging from its famous La Masia academy, which Xavi is also a graduate of.

Because Xavi is perfect for Barcelona

Xavi spent 17 seasons with the club and grew up in the youth academy and is one of the most titled players in Barça’s history, having won 25 trophies at the Camp Nou between 1997 and 2015, including eight La Liga titles and the Champions League. His 767 appearances for Barcelona were only surpassed by Messi.

As the person who helped set the standard for the club during its glory years, its supporters will have the confidence and time to help the team get back on track. Xavi is intimately familiar with the club’s ethics, he will support and develop the club’s young players, and he won’t commit the same public missteps that Koeman did with some of his comments that didn’t go well with the fan base.

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The complaint fans had with Koeman was the direct style of play he was imposing on the heavily cross-dependent team, which was antithetical to Barcelona’s philosophy but felt more necessary based on the available staff. Xavi will definitely bring the team back to playing his style based on passing where he was a central cog.

Xavi has already shown he can implement that style when he became manager of Qatar’s Al Sadd in 2019 after playing four seasons at the club before retiring. He led the team to the Scudetto in his second season at the helm.

Al Sadd has won five more trophies under Xavi, who has now decided it’s the right time to return to Camp Nou, having turned down Barça’s previous offers due to lack of managerial experience.

He had made it clear to reporters that he wanted to go home when new rumors of a return to Catalonia surfaced. He said, “I really want to go home. I hope that happens. I have a contract [with Al Sadd] and now the clubs have to negotiate. They already know my position. “

Xavi made his wish come true, with Barca officials flying to Qatar to settle a deal with Al Sadd and their main coaching goal before a deal was finalized.

Xavi’s task

It will take a monumental effort for Xavi to transform the team’s fortunes after his poor start to the 2021-22 campaign.

Barça have already lost three La Liga games, including a painful defeat for Clasico at home to Real Madrid. The Blaugrana are in 9th place (16 points) and nine points behind leaders Real Sociedad. New Memphis Depay signings, Eric Garcia and Sergio Aguero have yet to reach their best levels e Aguero will be out for three months while being monitored for a heart problem.

What could be more critical, and which would help explain the timing of the appointment, is that cash-strapped Barcelona find a way to advance to the UEFA Champions League round of 16 to secure the lucrative payouts that accompany tournament progress.

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He currently sits in second place in Group E behind runaway leaders Bayern Munich which would be enough to see him move forward as the top two teams advance. But Barcelona are facing a must-see home win against Benfica on 23 November. Any result other than a win would likely see him overcome on the last day of the December group.

Xavi is expected to take the reins during the international break for the World Cup qualifiers. There is still a La Liga game ahead of that hiatus as the team travels to face Celta Vigo on Saturday. Then it will be time for the new boss to get to work and find his feet in a familiar environment. The first game after the break? A derby against Espanyol on November 20th.


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