Xavi, Barca Tied In Marriage Of Convenience


Xavi Hernandez and Barcelona’s relationship seemed on the rocks in January but they have made the decision to stay together in a marriage of convenience.

After the coach said he would walk away at the end of the season from a dream job that turned out to be “cruel” and “unpleasant”, three months later he changed his mind in a dramatic U-turn.

“In January I saw the best thing was for me to leave, but now I see it differently,” Xavi said at a press conference Thursday.

President Joan Laporta said the club needed “stability” and not drastic decision-making, despite failing to meet any of their objectives this season.

The decision came hot on the heels of Barcelona’s Clasico defeat by Real Madrid that leaves them 11 points behind the leaders in La Liga, and Champions League elimination by Paris Saint-Germain.

Those losses virtually guarantee Barcelona will end the campaign without a trophy, a disappointment after their first La Liga triumph in four years last season.

Barcelona did manage to compete with Europe’s giants on an even keel in a way they have not in years past — securing their best Champions League result on the road in a decade with a 3-2 win at PSG.

They reached the quarter-finals for the first time since 2020 and knocked-out Serie A winners Napoli.

While Xavi’s list of excuses this season has run longer than the club’s constrictive salary bill, Ronald Araujo’s early red card against PSG in the second leg was a key factor in the second-leg 4-1 collapse.

Lamine Yamal’s hotly disputed “ghost goal” in the 3-2 Clasico defeat by Real Madrid is another crucial flashpoint which went against Barcelona.

“It’s in our hands now,” said Xavi, after years fearing the worst on the biggest nights against superior forces.

However the club’s improvement since Xavi’s initial decision in January is not the chief reason they club are willing to keep him, instead only the easy explanation.

Despite Laporta claiming they had not looked into alternative options, Barcelona could not see a suitable one.

Reserve team coach Rafa Marquez was not particularly convincing, nor was the favourite to replace Xavi, Hansi Flick.

Julian Nagelsmann is staying with Germany, Thomas Tuchel has struggled with Bayern Munich and would likely prove too expensive for Barcelona in any case.

As would Jurgen Klopp, who wants a break after his time at Liverpool — taking over at chaotic, cash-strapped Barcelona would be entirely contrary.

Next season if things go awry Laporta has Marquez as an escape plan.

To appoint the Mexican now would open the door to another potential new coach having to be found after that, along with the financial consequences.

“Regarding money, Xavi has behaved with great dignity,” said Laporta. “He has never been greedy.”

•⁠ ⁠Xavi a shield? –
Xavi also offers Laporta an umbrella from the steady rain of criticism — the only reliable deluge in drought-ridden Catalonia — with the 44-year-old’s glittering past as a Barcelona player making him an easy target.

Barcelona can also hope keeping Xavi will still work out, with each year at the helm providing vital new experiences for a novice coach.

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