Xavi Hernandez has refused FC Barcelona’s offer to become first team head coach.
The saga began on Friday, when following Thursday evening’s 2-3 Spanish Super Cup semi final defeat to Atletico Madrid in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, director of football Eric Abidal and chief executive Oscar Grau flew to Doha.
There, they met not just the injured Ousmane Dembélé, who is undergoing treamtent in the Qatari capital, but also the legendary midfielder to discuss him replacing the tipped-to-be-ousted Ernesto Valverde.
This claim was originally made by radio station RAC1, and later, Madrid-based newspaper AS reported that an offer to occupy the Camp Nou hotseat for two-and-a-half-years had been made to the Blaugrana’s all-time appearances leader.
Prior to another semi-final clash in the Middle East that pitted Xavi’s employers Al-Sadd against Al-Rayyan in the Qatar Cup on Saturday, the former’s sporting director, Muhammad Ghulam Al Balushi, confirmed on local TV station AlKass that talks had taken place.
‘There are negotiations between Xavi and Barcelona [going on] now and we wish him well wherever he wants to go,’ Al Balushi remarked.
After Al-Sadd came out 4-1 on top, Xavi commented on the matter in public for the first time at his post-match press conference by saying that ‘I can’t hide my dream of training Barcelona one day, and I would like to train Barça, but now my focus is on Al-Sadd. I can’t talk about what happens at Barcelona because I respect the club and Valverde’.
On the sitdown with ex-teammate Abidal and Grau, he added: ‘Abidal is my friend, but I have to respect Barça and Al-Sadd. My goal is [focusing on] the next game, and I can’t deny it, but they came here to see [Ousmane] Dembélé. I can’t talk about this topic and the conversation as it was on many issues, and as I mentioned, I am currently focusing on Al-Sadd and the Qatar Cup final on Friday against Al-Duhail.’
Mundo Deportivo then published a piece stating that the three would again meet that evening, with Xavi given until the Sunday morning to make a decision.
And now, it has been revealed by the same sports daily that the 39-year-old has opted not to return home, and instead prolong a near half-decade stint at Al-Sadd which saw him play four years in the QNB Stars League after winning his fourth Champions League crown with Barça in 2015.
As a consequence, the under-fire Valverde will continue in his current post until at least June as will Xavi in his first managerial role.