Barcelona icon Xavi has confirmed he held talks with the club recently and has said it is his “dream” to take charge at the Camp Nou in the future.
Xavi, who is the head coach of Al Sadd, has been strongly linked with the position of late, with the role’s incumbent, Ernesto Valverde, coming under increased pressure.
Rumours surfaced that Barcelona officials recently held talks with Xavi about taking over at the club, which the four-time UEFA Champions League winner on Saturday revealed did take place. However, he added he is focused on his current team, per Sky Sports:
Tomorrow’s 🗞️ frontpages in Barcelona…
Mundo Deportivo: “Xavi now”
Sport: “Valverde doomed… and Xavi decides today!” pic.twitter.com/k7npkTP8fx
— The Spanish Football Podcast (@tsf_podcast) January 11, 2020
“I cannot say anything, they were here to talk to me and we discussed many things. Sorry I cannot give any more information.
“I cannot hide it’s my dream to coach Barcelona, I’ve said it many times in many interviews, everyone knows I support Barcelona from the bottom of my heart. But I’m doing my job here, I’m doing my best. I was focused on the semi-final and now I’m focusing on the final.“
Xavi was speaking after Al Sadd beat Al Rayyan on Saturday to progress to the final of the Qatar Crown Prince Cup.
Per The Spanish Football Podcast, speculation is beginning to ramp up over the possibility of Xavi taking charge of the Blaugrana immediately:
Xavi should absolutely be given every chance to become Barça manager. But not yet. His managerial career is 26 games old. It’s too soon, especially if it entails taking over a team mid-season.
— Andy West (@andywest01) January 10, 2020
While Valverde has won back-to-back league titles in his two full seasons in charge of the club, he’s not a popular figure with the the fanbase.
The team has struggled to play with any identity under his guidance and frequently depend on pieces of magic from Lionel Messi to pull them out of trouble. Barcelona also collapsed in the knockout stages of the past two Champions League tournaments, suffering embarrassing eliminations to Roma and Liverpool.
The pressure on Valverde was ramped up again when Barcelona were knocked out of the Spanish Super Cup by Atletico Madrid on Thursday. Football writer Andy West thinks the coach has been on borrowed time for a while:
Barca going straight for Xavi would be an insane decision. His coaching quality is unknowable in a context like Qatar, and – as so many United figures prove – talking a good game is proof of nothing in that regard.
— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) January 11, 2020
Xavi would be a popular appointment as Barcelona boss, as he is the club’s leading appearance-maker and won 25 trophies in 17 years. Miguel Delaney of The Independent thinks it would be too soon for the 39-year-old to return, though:
Xavi retired from playing in May last year and went straight into coaching Al Sadd. They sit in third place in the Qatar Stars League.