Barcelona Parts Ways with Coach Xavi Hernández After Disappointing Season

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BARCELONA, Spain — In a dramatic turn of events, Barcelona has decided to part ways with coach Xavi Hernández, just one month after he expressed his intention to stay on despite a disappointing season. The club announced the coaching change on Friday, signaling the end of Xavi’s tenure.

The decision was made after a meeting at the team’s training ground between club president Joan Laporta, Xavi, and other senior officials. Laporta informed Xavi that he would not be continuing as the first-team coach for the 2024-25 season.

Xavi, a former midfield great for Barcelona, led the team to the Spanish league title last season. However, this season has been challenging, with the team finishing without a title and trailing significantly behind champions Real Madrid.

Xavi had initially decided to leave the club this summer, not completing the last year of his contract. However, in April, he reversed his decision, citing improved performances and support from his players. This change of heart came after Barcelona’s sports director, Deco, had stated that the club was not seeking a new coach.

Despite this, recent comments from Xavi about Barcelona’s financial struggles and their impact on competitiveness reportedly displeased Laporta. These remarks led to rumors of his potential dismissal, which Xavi countered by expressing his motivation to continue and belief in his ability to lead the team to success.

Xavi’s final game as coach will be Sunday’s away match against Sevilla. Reflecting on the situation, Sevilla coach Quique Sánchez Flores commented, “I shouldn’t say this, but look how poorly Barcelona treats its club legends.”

Speculation about Xavi’s replacement is already underway, with Spanish and German media suggesting former Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick as a potential candidate.

Xavi, who left Barcelona as a player in 2015 after winning 25 titles, including four Champions League and eight Spanish league titles, returned as a coach in November 2021. He was tasked with leading a rebuilding project after the club lost Lionel Messi amid a financial crisis. Although he initially brought success, including signing key players like Robert Lewandowski, this season saw the team struggle in major competitions.

Whoever takes over will face the challenge of managing a team with young talents like Lamine Yamal and Gavi Páez, but with very limited financial resources. Barcelona’s salary cap has been significantly reduced, limiting their spending ability compared to rivals like Real Madrid.

As the club continues to navigate financial difficulties, it may look to sell high-profile players, including Netherlands midfielder Frenkie de Jong, and potentially even Lewandowski or goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Xavi’s departure marks the end of a turbulent season and the beginning of a new chapter for Barcelona. – AP