Xavi’s trip from Qatar to Barcelona

Xavi shouts orders during Al Sadd's last game against Al Duhail.

Xavi shouts orders during Al Sadd’s last game against Al Duhail.

The long way back home is about to end. The football and technical exile of Xavi Hernandez will conclude six years later to return to the origins. To the Barça. He left while still a player to unleash the last blows at Al Sadd and will reappear in Barcelona as a full-fledged coach, with seven titles in his backpack, no matter how much he is blamed lack of experience to sit on the electrifying bench of the Camp Nou. As if the 21 years at Barça and the 6 in Qatar had not given him enough knowledge.

Xavi began to say goodbye to acquaintances and relatives and his pupils, naturally, who could not give him the ninth victory in nine days. The “emotional talk” of the dressing room did not bear fruit except in a tie (3-3) that maintains the distance on its most immediate pursuer, Al Duhail, just before the break of a month and a half due to commitments of the Qatari team.

Sway of emotions

The duel was also a sway of emotions. Al Sadd took the lead in the third minute, then conceded two goals in two corners, came back with two goals in one minute and Olunga, a Kenyan who passed through Girona, ended up holding the farewell party in the epilogue of the clash.

Xavi from Qatar leaves to help Barça, who has come to him for the third time. The first with Joan Laporta. And it will be the charm. Not so much at the moment (he said no to Josep Maria Bartomeu in January 2020 to replace Ernesto Valverde) or by the president (Laporta rejected his hiring until a few weeks ago), but by Barça. The team is sliding down a declining slope, leaving shreds of prestige and style week after week, and Xavi feels empowered “and very excited” to restore the luster to the team of your heart. “But I’m not a messiah,” he warned to contain the excitement that his imminent return unleashes.

Culé’s presence in the box

Rafa Yuste and Mateu Alemany, vice president and director of football, respectively of Barça, went to look for him on a trip necessary for protocol and not for the negotiation itself. Mohammed bin Hamad al Thani, the president of Al Sadd and brother of the Emir of Qatar, wanted to receive a visit from Barcelona’s emissaries to negotiate the transfer, virtually agreed between Barça and their new coach. Xavi urged both clubs to close the deal “as soon as possible” to sign for the remainder of the season and two more, until 2024.

The president of Barça did not want to travel to head the delegation (agent Arturo Canales and Fernando Solanas, Xavi’s representative yesterday were in the box chatting with Yuste and Alemany) despite the fact that his Qatari counterpart hoped to seal the operation at the highest level. Bin Hamad did not plan to receive the Barça representatives if there was not an equal among them; that is to say, Laporta.

The CEO of Al Sadd, Turki Al-Ali, issued a tweet during the match trying to convey a position of strength: the refusal to part with his coach. After welcoming the Barça delegation on Twitter, he added a second message: “The club’s position is clear from the beginning: we are committed to keeping our coach Xavi with us and we can’t let him go at this delicate time of the season“.

Agreed departure

Yuste and Alemany were not impressed. They had the commitment of Xavi, who for his part had already interceded with the sheikh to let him go to Barça. The departure of the return to the Camp Nou was specified in the renewal contract that he signed on May 13 until 2023. Some sources put the clause at 5 million euros. The visit of the Barça tried eliminate or reduce the price – the same curiously, that was paid for Koeman to the Dutch team – or exchange it with a friendly match.

The Doha meetings are aimed at closing all the details of Xavi’s stay and the components of his coaching staff at Barça. His brother Òscar Hernández and Sergio Alegre are the field assistants who accompany him on the bench. Sergio García, David Prats and Toni Lobo work as analysts.


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