x

SPORTS

Xavi Reportedly Under Pressure at Barcelona after Saying It Will Struggle to Compete with Madrid

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Xavi Hernández’s honesty about Barcelona’s ongoing financial strife has reportedly not sat well with the club.

In a message directed at the Barcelona fans, Xavi said earlier this week that no one should get too excited about the summer transfer market since there is little money to spend.

Spanish sports media has been rife with reports since then that club president Joan Laporta was not pleased with those comments and could be thinking of firing the former Spain great.

After Barcelona’s 2-0 win over last-placed Almeria on Thursday, Xavi said he “understood the noise” that his comments generated, but that he is convinced his job is secure.

“I understand the noise, Barça is always like this, but I am calm and fully motivated, and that is what I transmit to Laporta and (sports director) Deco, who are the most important people in his project,” Xavi said.

The reported friction between coach and club came after Xavi said on Wednesday that “our fans and club members must understand the situation is very difficult, above all on the economic level, for us to compete with our top rivals, whether it be Real Madrid or teams in Europe.

“We have to accept that. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to compete and that we won’t fight for titles, but this is the situation Barça is in.”

Officially, the club said it had no comment on the media reports that Xavi’s job could be in danger.

Barcelona will finish the season without a title. It has lost all three clasico matches with Madrid across all competitions and lost both its league games with Girona by the score of 4-2, in addition to other big losses.

Xavi said at one point that he was giving up and would not finish his contract after a 5-3 loss to Villarreal in January, only to take that back in April and commit to staying at Barcelona after the team had improved.

And all the while Madrid has won the domestic league, reached another Champions League final, and is widely expected to acquire France star Kylian Mbappé.

Barcelona still has one goal to achieve, secure the second-placed finish in the table that will earn it a spot in the Spanish Super Cup next season. It gets six million euros ($6.5 million) if it participates in the mini-tournament held in Saudi Arabia, money that it can ill afford to miss out on.

Barcelona can lock up second spot with a victory when it hosts Rayo Vallecano on Sunday in the second-to-last round. It is four points ahead of third-placed Girona, which is at Valencia.

Laporta inherited a club mired in debts of more than 1.3 billion euros, and soccer’s most expensive payroll, when he returned to run the club for a second time in 2021.

His policy of selling off future television revenues and other club assets, which Laporta dubbed financial “levers,” allowed Barcelona to sign Robert Lewandowski and other players two seasons ago.

But the club’s wages still exceed the salary cap established by the Spanish league and it is more likely to sell players this off-season than bring in new talent.

EUROPA, RELEGATION

Real Sociedad visits Real Betis on Sunday with both fighting for a Europa League spot. Sociedad is in sixth place and holding the berth, while Betis is one point behind in seventh and currently in the Europa Conference League position.

Cadiz is in the relegation zone, four points behind Mallorca, the last team clinging to safety. Rayo and Celta Vigo are one point ahead of Mallorca.

Cadiz hosts Las Palmas on Sunday, while Mallorca hosts Almeria and Celta is at Granada.

Champion Madrid is at Villarreal as it eyes the Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund on June 1.

___
By JOSEPH WILSON Associated Press

RELATED

LEIPZIG, Germany — Portugal substitute Francisco Conceição scored in stoppage time for a 2-1 win over the Czech Republic in their European Championship opening game on Tuesday.

Top Stories

Columnists

A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

Video

Wellness, Longevity, Gastronomy at Navarino Challenge 2024

ATHENS – The sports tourism and wellness event Navarino Challenge returns for its 12th year, October 18-20 at Costa Navarino and Pylos.

WASHINGTON  — A new Biden administration policy announced Tuesday will give roughly half a million immigrants who are married to American citizens but lack legal status in the United States a pathway to citizenship for them and their children.

FENTON, Mich. — With much of the Midwest and the Northeast broiling — or about to broil — in extreme summer heat this week, meteorologists are talking about heat waves and heat domes.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.