Barcelona have appointed former midfielder and captain Xavi Hernandez as first team coach on a contract until 2024, following the dismissal of Ronald Koeman.
On Friday, the league club was given the green light to sign the 41-year-old after paying the release of his contract with Qatari al-sadd.
xavi played for barcelona for 17 years, appearing in 767 games and winning 25 trophies, including four champions leagues and eight league titles.
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“fc barcelona has reached an agreement with xavi hernandez for him to become the coach of the first team for the rest of the current season and two more seasons,” the club said in a statement welcoming the legend to the club.
Dutch coach Koeman was sacked after a 1-0 loss to Rayo Vallecano last month that left Barca ninth in the league.
The club remains ninth after the appointment of Sergi Barjuan as interim coach and is nine points behind the Real Sociedad leader with one game in hand.
barjuan will remain in charge for their league match against celta de vigo on saturday, with xavi arriving in barcelona this weekend ahead of his presentation on monday.
“It wasn’t goodbye, it was ‘see you soon’. Camp Nou has always been my home,” said Xavi in a video addressed to the fans.
“you are my fans, my people, the club that I love the most. And now, I’m coming home. See you soon, culers. forca barca!”
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Xavi’s first game will be a local derby against Espanyol on November 20 after the international break.
Xavi, a former Spain international, joined al-sadd as a player in 2015 and became head coach after hanging up his boots in 2019. In April, he led his team to the Qatari national league title with the undefeated team.
turned down the opportunity to coach Barça in January 2020 after Ernesto Valverde was sacked, but remained attached to the job even after Koeman succeeded Quique Setién in August last year.
how good is xavi the trainer?
by adam bat
xavi hernandez returning to barcelona is a moment full of meaning. For a club that seems to have lost its identity, the return of the man who came to define the style of play for one of the best teams in the world is undeniably symbolic.
lionel messi may have been a god at the camp nou, but xavi was the defender of the faith, always the most active defender of the barcelona style. Even as a player, he defended the virtues of the aerial game, the football of possession perfected under Pep Guardiola.
everyone in barcelona knows how xavi sees the game. Fewer fans know what a xavi team is really like, but for the last two years he has been in charge of al sadd in qatar. get rid of emotion and feeling and who is xavi, the coach?
talk to those who have studied their teams more closely than anyone and it seems that the 41-year-old Catalan has spent his time practicing precisely what he has preached for a long time.
bjarki mar olafsson knows xavi’s methods better than most. he is the head of scouting and match analysis for al arabi in the qatar star league. in december, xavi’s team narrowly defeated arabi in the qatar emir’s cup final. olafsson did the analysis.
“I’ve been here analyzing and dissecting al sadd ever since he took over,” he tells sky sports. “I have spent many hours observing their teams and their style of play.
“just following his approach from when he started to where he is now has been really interesting because people don’t really realize the work he’s been doing on al sadd.”
“I think it’s a huge oversimplification to just talk about barcelona and that tiki-taka football because what they’re doing is quite innovative and really exciting in terms of their style of play.”
pep: xavi ready to work in barcelona
manchester city manager pep guardiola believes his former barcelona teammate is ready to become head coach at camp nou.
Guardiola expressed his sympathy for Koeman following his sacking, but says he has no doubts about Xavi’s ability to lead the Catalan club.
“Ronald and I know exactly what we depend on and live for, and we are there to see the results,” said Guardiola, a former Barcelona boss.
“no one can survive without good results, neither koeman nor pep. all i can say is that he is a friend of mine, i wish him all the best, we can chat soon…
“xavi – I don’t know what’s going to happen. In case it does, I have no doubt that he’s ready to do the job.
“He knows the game, he has passion and I’m pretty sure he has more experience now than I did when I took over.”