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Xavi confirmed as Barcelona boss as legend replaces Ronald Koeman

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Xavi looks to have completed his emotional return to Barcelona after being confirmed as the crisis-hit club’s new boss by his now old side Al-Sadd.

He takes over the job last held by Ronald Koeman, who was relieved of his duties last week following Barca’s abject defeat to minnows Rayo Vallecano, which left the Catalan giants sitting miserable in ninth place in the league. 

Al-Sadd said in a statement on their official Twitter account on Friday morning: ‘The administration agreed on the transfer of Xavi to Barcelona after paying the penalty clause stipulated in the contract.

Xavi has been confirmed as the new Barcelona manager by his now old side Al-Sadd

Xavi has been confirmed as the new Barcelona manager by his now old side Al-Sadd

‘We agreed with Barcelona on practical cooperation in the future, Xavi is an important part of the history. We wish him all success in the next stage.’

However, the Spanish club are yet to make an official announcement at their end and interim boss Sergi Barjuan said later on Friday: ‘Al-Sadd have made the statement, but Barca not yet. We are going to wait for both parties. 

‘If Xavi comes, my idea will be to help him and for any questions he may have, I will always be there to help the club.’

Reports in Spain claimed that Barcelona are still waiting to finalise the deal to bring back their club legend.

Nevertheless, Xavi is set to be drafted back into the fold to take charge of the club he left as a player in 2015 following 17 years of extraordinary success, after Barca fought to take him from Qatari club Al-Sadd and he begged to be allowed to return home. 

Xavi, 41, won LaLiga eight times and the Champions League four times as a player at the Nou Camp – as well as the 2010 World Cup and two European Championships with Spain – before ending his career with Al-Sadd.

Xavi left Barca in 2015, having gone down as one of the club's greatest players ever

Xavi left Barca in 2015, having gone down as one of the club’s greatest players ever

It remains to be seen whether Xavi will be in charge for Saturday’s LaLiga clash against Celta Vigo, with his first game more likely to be after the international break in the derby against Espanyol on November 20. 

He has been honing his coaching skills in the Middle East for the last two years, all the while appearing to be groomed as a future Barca boss – and the job he was always destined for is now his, albeit in difficult circumstances. 

Barcelona are in an unprecedented crisis: they are over £1billion in debt due to the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic; they are without talisman Lionel Messi, who they were forced to relinquish to PSG in the summer as they were unable to pay his wages; and they are in a desperate state on the pitch, with miserable players, forced to take pay cuts, limping from one bad result to another at home and in Europe under Koeman. 

Ronald Koeman was sacked last week and has now been replaced by the club legend

Ronald Koeman was sacked last week and has now been replaced by the club legend

Xavi will take over after two heartening results following Koeman’s departure, a 3-1 win over Valencia and a 1-0 Champions League victory against Dinamo Kiev, but the scale of his task is enormous, especially for a rookie manager.

Barca will hope that Xavi can follow in the footsteps of another club legend turned rookie boss who they entrusted with the reins in the recent past – Pep Guardiola. 

Al-Sadd had put up a fight to keep Xavi, who has won the league title in Qatar as a coach, as well as six cup competitions in just two seasons.

But Xavi made a public plea to the club to allow him to fulfil his dream of managing his boyhood club.

‘I’ve been talking to Barca for days, it’s done,’ Xavi said earlier this week.

‘But now it depends on the conversations between clubs, they need to reach an agreement. Barca is coming to talk, we are all eager and excited. We’ll see if it ends up being done.

‘I really want to go home. I hope it happens. I have a contract and now the clubs have to negotiate. They already know my position.’

Barca have been working around the clock in the past few days to get a deal over the line, and went as far as sending a delegation to Qatar to smooth over the arrangements. 

Xavi won the Champions League four times with Barca, including in 2015 (pictured)

Xavi won the Champions League four times with Barca, including in 2015 (pictured)

He will be charged with reviving the fortunes of Memphis Depay and Co

Ansu Fati (right) is the team's most exciting player

He will be charged with reviving the fortunes of Memphis Depay (left), Ansu Fati (right) and Co

Xavi appeared to say his farewell following Al-Sadd’s 3-3 draw against Al-Duhail in the Qatar Stars League on Wednesday, as he shook all of his players’ hands after the final whistle. 

Al-Sadd captain Abdelkarim Hassan admitted that he expected his manager to leave for Spain, saying: ‘Everyone is sad because of Xavi’s departure, but he will coach a big team like Barcelona.

‘Xavi presented a new idea to Qatari football and Al-Sadd players and helped us as a great player and coach, and his ideas led us to achieve a lot despite the criticism. We will miss him a lot.’

Xavi has sharpened his managerial abilities after taking over at Al-Sadd following retirement

Xavi has sharpened his managerial abilities after taking over at Al-Sadd following retirement

The 41-year-old appeared to say his farewell following Al-Sadd's 3-3 draw against Al-Duhail

The 41-year-old appeared to say his farewell following Al-Sadd’s 3-3 draw against Al-Duhail

The former Barca captain said afterwards that he 'really wants to go home' back to Catalonia

The former Barca captain said afterwards that he ‘really wants to go home’ back to Catalonia

XAVI’S INCREDIBLE BARCELONA CAREER 

Youth career: 1991-97

Pro career: 1997-2015 

767 games 

85 goals

185 assists

133 caps for Spain

4x Champions League

8x LaLiga 

3x Copa del Rey

2x Club World Cup

2x UEFA Super Cup 

6x Spanish Super Cup

International: 

1x World Cup

2x European Championship

Following Koeman’s dismissal, Barca moved swiftly to install Barca B manager Barjuan – who played 382 times for Barca in the 1990s and early 2000s – as interim boss.

Speaking in a press conference last Friday, ahead of Barca’s clash with Alaves, club president Joan Laporta said of Xavi: ‘My opinion about Xavi as a manager is he is in a process learning, evolving, I have really good references from close people who know him better than me in that way.

‘I talked with him two months ago when we gave Ronald Koeman this confidence because I understand that we had to give him those months, the team needed some time to recover.

‘I have a great relationship with Xavi, I have been speaking with him in the last month, I know his opinion about this squad, what he thinks has to happen. 

‘We talk as two friends and in this case my opinion is a really good one.

‘I am talking to him because he loves football, he is a huge Barca fan, it is one of his goals in his life.’ 

Koeman had received a vote of confidence several months ago, but Laporta accepts he should have been fired sooner.

‘Probably, yes,’ said Laporta. ‘Looking back it is easy to analyse, we felt Koeman deserved confidence to recover some injured players and it was a way to motivate the manager.

‘I looked for some positives. Probably we had to make an earlier decision, I assume the responsibilities of this decision.

‘The situation was not sustainable. We needed to act. We were not on course to achieve the objectives of the season, which is to win titles.’

Joan Laporta admitted that with hindsight Koeman should been sacked by Barcelona sooner

Joan Laporta admitted that with hindsight Koeman should been sacked by Barcelona sooner

President Laporta (left) faced up to the media after a tumultuous week for Barcelona

President Laporta (left) faced up to the media after a tumultuous week for Barcelona

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