FC Barcelona: Xavi will now remain coach at Barça

In the end there was still a lot of space for the really big feelings emotions, as it is said in Catalan. FC Barcelona’s press conference was a good half hour old when club president Joan Laporta announced Barcelonaism, as the Barça community is called in the local idiom, can be “proud of our coach”. Laporta’s speech faltered, tears welled up in his eyes, so he smiled lovingly and yet pained.

The coach in question, Xavi Hernández, leaned over to Laporta, breathed “gràcies, presi” and smiled and suggested a hug. That was the moment when the world of FC Barcelona suddenly seemed to be completely in order again: Xavi, 44, will now remain head coach of the Catalans until 2025. The resignation at the end of the season, which was announced as “irrevocable” at the end of January, has been revoked. “This time irrevocably,” assured Xavi.

It was anything but an easy decision, Xavi explained, and you could see the seriousness in his facial features as telling evidence. Xavi rarely smiled; He did it especially now when a journalist pointedly remarked that he didn’t know whether he should congratulate Xavi on staying or rather express his condolences. It’s true: the problems that led to the resignation in January are far from over – even if, thanks to Xavi, there has now been an “abrupt change in the script,” according to the newspaper The country wrote.

It was “cruel” to be Barça coach – among other things because the environment was “toxic”, Xavi said at the end of January. He added at the time that his resignation was “the best thing for the club and everyone involved”, including for the team, which needed new impetus. President Laporta, on the other hand, was stunned. It was only because Xavi was a club legend that he “accepted” his decision; he would have ipso facto thrown out anyone else, Laporta explained at the time.

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In addition, there was a dispute with various leading media in Catalonia, which the coach felt was being unfairly persecuted. They never appreciated the situation in which he had to lead the team, complained Xavi, and the media revealed their longing for former coach Pep Guardiola by glorifying the Spanish surprise team FC Girona, which has just qualified for the European Cup and the Empire of Guardiola’s club Manchester City. All of this seems to have been forgotten for the time being – or at least on hold.

It is true that Xavi had and still has a number of hurdles to overcome. The Camp Nou home stadium is currently being rebuilt, which will require a temporary move to the unpopular Olympic Stadium. The burden of the affair surrounding unfair payments to the Spanish association’s former head of referees, José María Enríquez Negreira, has destroyed Barça’s image. The club’s billions in debts do the rest. Despite all this, Xavi has stabilized the club – to the point that Laporta has now put a warning he once expressed into perspective. It read: “Losing will have consequences.”

The word still applies, the club boss said on Thursday, and the fact that Barça will end the current season without a title (eliminated in the cup and the Champions League, now far behind Real Madrid in the league) will also have consequences, he emphasized . But these consequences should not be drastic.

The slightly improved financial situation could now allow some transfers – Joshua Kimmich would also be on Xavi’s list

This can be nicely supported by Xavi’s remark that it would be “wise to correct yourself.” Yes, he believed in January that it was better to leave, but: “Now I believe it is better to move on.” He made the correction because a lot of things had changed for the better, especially the quality of the team’s football. And Xavi probably also likes the fact that a few young players have emerged who can make a statement: Cubarsí, Yamal and Fermín are homegrown players who nurture hopes. Two years ago, his team was “unable to keep up with FC Bayern,” said Xavi, but now they have fallen to Paris in the premier class “only” because of details.

In general: Not only the executive committee around Laporta, but also the team asked for him to stay. Likewise the people he meets on the street. Quote Xavi: “You made me realize that this project must continue and that it is not over yet.”

Xavi also emphasized that money did not play a role in his decision. He said from day one that he would waive the outstanding annual salary or severance payment and make it available to his eventual successor, so to speak. “I ratify these words,” said President Laporta.

That doesn’t mean, however, that pecuniary matters played a minor role in the astonishing script change. Although Laporta emphasized that there had been “no negotiations” with other coaches, there were loose discussions: including with Hansi Flick and/or his agent Pini Zahavi, whom Laporta calls a “brother”. However, it was always clear that Barça would wait and see whether Xavi changed his mind. And it would also have been about money: Flick would probably have asked for a higher salary than Xavi, as would Roberto De Zerbi (Brighton), and the latter would have cost a transfer fee in the double-digit million range. Most recently it was said that if Xavi left, Barcelona would promote second team coach Rafael Márquez, and that was also due to the financial situation. In the end, Xavi is likely to be the cheapest among the solutions that promise a minimum of guarantees.

On the other hand, it seems to have played a role that Barcelona has made such progress in reducing expenses and improving operating results that the club can make signings next summer without having to meet any requirements or conditions set by the Spanish league association. This would help fulfill Xavi’s central wishes. For example: keeping central defender Ronald Araújo and beefing up the squad. Midfielders that Xavi wanted last summer are in his sights: Martín Zubimendi from Real Sociedad, Bernardo Silva from Manchester City – and Joshua Kimmich from FC Bayern.

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