Xavi Hernandez has broken his silence and sought to explain why he did not replace Ronald Koeman as manager of Barcelona this summer.
The club legend was heavily linked with a return to the Camp Nou to take over from the Dutchman who came under pressure after a disappointing end to the 2020-21 campaign
“Luckily or unluckily, I’d said no twice to Barca, for different circumstances, family, professional, contractual reasons. It was very hard to say no because I am a cule but it was not the moment,” he said. “I’m open, I’m not fooling anyone. I’m preparing myself for this, but you have to respect Koeman, a club legend with another year on his contract.”
Barcelona president Joan Laporta confirmed on Thursday that Koeman would continue for a second season at Barcelona, as reported by the club’s official website.
“After this period of reflection, vice-president Rafael Yuste and myself have agreed that we will continue with the current contract that Ronald Koeman has,” he said. “We see the coach very motivated and he already has a year of experience in this dressing room, which we will try to make more competitive. I think Koeman comes out on top because he is the coach we want.”
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Xavi ‘In No Rush’ To Return To Barcelona
Xavi signed a two-year contract extension with Qatari side Al-Sadd in May 2021 but that did little to dampen speculation he could come back to Barcelona. The rumors ramped up after Xavi flew back to the city for a vacation with 22 suitcases.
The former midfielder spoke about his trip home and how he was met by reporters as soon as he landed at the airport.
“I land in Barcelona, they wait for me at the airport and as soon as I arrive people send me messages,” he added. “But haven’t they told you anything? Well no, firstly because there is a coach who is Koeman, who must be respected, and then because I’m in no rush. What has to come will come.”
Xavi enjoyed great success with Al-Sadd last season. The team won the QNB Stars League and went through the entire campaign unbeaten to win the title by 13 points.
Koeman ‘Relieved’ To Continue As Barcelona Coach
Koeman will now continue as Barcelona boss but his future will no doubt come under scrutiny next season if results and performances do not impress Laporta. The president has reportedly already told the Dutchman he wants to see more attacking football.
The 58-year-old has reacted to the confirmation he is staying at the Camp Nou with a post on Instagram. He wrote, “I am relieved to say my players and staff can fully focus on the new season now. The last few weeks have been intense, but I am glad that President Joan Laporta gave his support to me and calm has been restored. The focus of everyone inside the club is the same: building a winning Barça and achieving success.”
The Dutchman lifted the Copa del Rey in his first season in charge but more will be demanded of the coach in 2021-22. Barca will be expected to put up a serious challenge in La Liga and the Champions League and failure to do so could spell the end for Koeman.