Longtime Barcelona captain Xavi Hernandez could be returning to his old squad as its coach. Barcelona directors Rafa Yuste and Mateu Alemany traveled to Doha, Qatar, to meet with Xavi and his agents about the vacancy left behind by the firing of Ronald Koeman last week.
Al Sadd -- the Qatar-based team Xavi has coached since his 2019 playing retirement -- isn't going to let the legendary midfielder go that easily, though. CEO Turki Al-Ali announced his team is "committed to keeping our coach Xavi with us and we cannot have him leave at this sensitive time of the season."
Barcelona are set to complete the agreement with Xavi and Al-Sadd, confirmed. It’s matter of time.— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) November 3, 2021
Meeting ongoing as revealed by @EduPolo on Mundo Deportivo with exclusive pic. 📸 #FCB
Here’s Alemany with Yuste and Xavi agents in the stadium where Al-Sadd are prepared to play. pic.twitter.com/5kh5SDAWuC
Both sides are expected to hold talks over the next day or so to find a resolution. After Wednesday's match, Xavi greeted each player one by one in what may have felt like a farewell. Former Villarreal and Arsenal midfielder and current Al Sadd player Santi Cazorla even told Spanish outlet Cadena SER after the match that he wishes Xavi the best:
"We wish Xavi the best, we want it to be the best for him," Cazorla said. "I'm very grateful for everything he's done for me. Now it's time to wait and see what happens"
The 41-year-old Xavi, who signed a two-year contract extension in May, expressed his commitment to Al Sadd before Saturday's Qatar Stars League game against Al Ahli. According to Spanish media, Xavi's contract has a release clause of €10m (roughly $11.6 million).
"I'm currently focused on my work with Al Sadd and I cannot talk about anything else," Xavi, who's led Al Saad to seven major trophies, told reporters on Friday.
If the sides can agree to a deal, Xavi could provide an energy boost to an unusually inept Barcelona team. The club is currently ninth in La Liga with 15 points in 10 games under caretaker coach Sergi Barjuan.
"Xavi, if it happens, I don't have any doubts that he's ready to do the job," Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, who managed Xavi for four seasons, said on Friday. "He knows the environment which is so important. He knows the game, he has passion. He has more experience now that I had when I took over. If Xavi is the next manager, I wish him all the best and hopefully step by step the team can come back."
Barcelona is slated to host Alaves on Saturday, and it could very well have Xavi back by then if the financials are agreed upon.