FC Barcelona on Friday welcomed club legend Xavi Hernández, who takes on as their first team coach for the rest of the current season and two more seasons. The 41-year-old will arrive at Nou Camp on Monday, the club announced in a press release.
“It was meant to be. Welcome home,” Barcelona tweeted along with a video.
“A legend on the pitch, with the soul of a manager,” FCB said in another tweet.
Xavi was released from his contract as the coach of Qatari club Al-Sadd. He will replace Ronald Koeman, who was fired last week following a series of losses for the club. Sergi Barjuan has been coaching Barcelona since, overseeing a draw in the Spanish league and a victory in the Champions League. Barjuan will return to coaching the reserve team after Saturday’s game at Celta Vigo.
“It is expected that Xavi Hernández will arrive in Barcelona this weekend and that on Monday 8 November his presentation as new FC Barcelona first team coach will take place in an event open to the public at Camp Nou. After the event Xavi Hernández will appear in a press conference in the Ricard Maxenchs press room,” Barcelona said in a press release.
During his time as a player, Xavi helped the club win 25 titles, including four Champions Leagues and eight Spanish leagues in 17 seasons.
Earlier on Friday, Al-Sadd said it was ready to let Xavi go upon the payment of a buyout clause reportedly worth 5 million euros ($5.7 million). Barcelona made no mention of the clause when it announced the deal with Xavi, only saying that it came “after talks held over the last few days with the owners of the (Qatari) club.”
Al-Sadd wished Xavi well.
“Xavi informed us a few days ago of his desire to go to Barcelona at this particular time, because of the critical stage his hometown club is going through, and we understand this and decided not to stand in his way,” Al-Sadd chief executive Turki Al-Ali said. “We’ve agreed on cooperation with Barcelona in the future. Xavi is an important part of Al-Sadd’s history and we wish him success.”
Barcelona club president Joan Laporta now hopes that, as coach, Xavi can rekindle Barcelona’s beloved attacking style based on suffocating ball possession and intricate passing moves.
Xavi will inherit a team that is struggling in the Spanish league and has yet to guarantee that it will get through the group stage of the Champions League.
Xavi turned down the chance to coach Barcelona in January 2020 when Laporta’s predecessor fired Ernesto Valverde in the middle of the season.
“When they offered me (the job), it had barely been three months since I was coaching,” Xavi said recently. “But now it is different. I have more experience and I am learning a lot here (with Al-Sadd).”
His first match in charge will be a derby against Espanyol on November 20 after an international break.
He leaves Al-Sadd as the leader of the Qatari league after nine games as it attempts to defend its title.
Al-Sadd published a video of Xavi apparently saying goodbye to his players during a team meal. Several players wished him a fond farewell in the video.
With inputs from the Associated Press