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Qatari Club Agrees to Let Xavi Become Barcelona Coach

November 5, 2021

BARCELONA, Spain — Xavi Hernández will be allowed to become Barcelona’s next coach upon the payment of his release clause from Al-Sadd, the Qatari club said Friday.

Barcelona declined to comment on Spanish media reports that said Xavi’s buyout clause is 5 million euros ($5.7 million).

“The Al-Sadd administration has agreed on Xavi’s move to Barcelona after the payment of the release clause stipulated in the contract,” Al-Sadd CEO Turki Al-Ali said in a posting on the club’s Twitter account. “We’ve agreed on cooperation with Barcelona in the future. Xavi is an important part of Al-Sadd’s history and we wish him success.”

The former Spain midfielder is set to replace Ronald Koeman, who was fired last week. Sergi Barjuan has led Barcelona since then. He will return to coaching the reserve team.

The 41-year-old Xavi left Barcelona in 2015 after helping the club win 25 titles, including four Champions Leagues and eight Spanish leagues in 17 seasons. He was also key to Spain’s streak of titles when it won the 2010 World Cup and European Championships in 2008 and 2012.

He has been at Al-Sadd since then, first as a player and then as coach.

Xavi’s vision, passing and ability to maintain the ball under pressure made him critical to leading both Barcelona and Spain’s national team to their most successful eras.

Barcelona club president Joan Laporta now hopes that, as coach, Xavi can rekindle Barcelona’s beloved attacking style based on suffocating ball possession and intricate passing moves.

But Xavi will arrive with no experience coaching in a major league and will face the same daunting challenge that led to Koeman’s downfall: Barcelona is no longer the Barcelona he left behind as a player.

The team’s depleted finances have stripped it of former teammate Lionel Messi and other top players like Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suárez.

Xavi will inherit a team that is struggling in the Spanish league and has yet to guarantee that it will get through the group stage of the Champions League.

It will also be seen if Xavi’s personal relationship with veterans Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba, all former teammates, will help or hurt him as he continues the rebuild started by Koeman.

In his favor, Xavi can benefit from the work started by Koeman, who brought several young players into his starting lineup. Above all, Pedri González, who has also had a superb year with Spain, and Gavi Páez seem perfect to fit Xavi’s playing style.

Xavi turned down the chance to coach Barcelona in January 2020 when Laporta’s predecessor fired Ernesto Valverde in the middle of the season.

“When they offered me (the job), it had barely been three months since I was coaching,” Xavi said recently. “But now it is different. I have more experience and I am learning a lot here (with Al-Sadd).”

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