Sources: Barca set to finalise Xavi appointment


A Barcelona delegation has travelled to Qatar to finalise an agreement for Al Sadd coach Xavi Hernandez to take over at Camp Nou, sources have told ESPN.

Vice president Rafa Yuste and director of football Mateu Alemany flew to Doha after Tuesday’s Champions League win over Dynamo Kiev, and sources told ESPN that Barca hope to announce Xavi as Ronald Koeman’s successor before the end of the week.

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Yuste and Alemany will take in Al Sadd’s top-of-the-table clash against Al-Duhail on Wednesday before sitting down with the Qatari club to discuss bringing the former Barca midfielder back to LaLiga.

Negotiations with Xavi over personal terms are already advanced but, as he has two years to run on his contract with Al Sadd, the two clubs still need to reach an agreement.

Xavi, 41, will be tasked with breathing life into a struggling Barcelona side. They are winless in three league games and sit ninth in the table, although Tuesday’s result in Kiev means they can book their place in the round of 16 of the Champions League with a win against Benfica on Nov. 23.

Interim coach Sergi Barjuan is expected to remain in charge for Saturday’s match at Celta Vigo, with Xavi then taking over after the international break, with his first game likely to be against rivals Espanyol on Nov. 20 at Camp Nou.

Xavi quickly emerged as the favourite to take over last week when Koeman was sacked following the surprise 1-0 loss to Rayo Vallecano.

Barca president Joan Laporta has said there were “other options” on the table, too, but sources told ESPN that Xavi was the No.1 candidate to fill the vacancy from the off.

The ex-Spain international left Barca for Al Sadd in 2015 after spending 24 years at the Catalan club, during which time he made 767 first-team appearances, a figure only bettered by Lionel Messi.

Xavi spent four years as a player in Qatar before beginning his coaching career in 2019. He has already won seven trophies as Al Sadd manager and his team are unbeaten in 35 league games spanning two seasons.

Laporta had previously said that he didn’t think Xavi was ready to take over at Barca yet but the club’s deteriorating results forced him to change his mind.

Speaking after dismissing Koeman, the president said he had “very good references” about Xavi as a coach and that he had already spoken to him about how Barca can improve.

Xavi, meanwhile, previously turned the job down when it was offered to him by the previous president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, at the start of 2020. Almost two years later, though, sources told ESPN he is now keen to return home.

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