Xavi Hernandez landed back in Barcelona on Monday afternoon with his family and was met by reporters amid mounting speculation the club legend is set to replace Ronald Koeman as first-team coach at the end of the 2020-21 season.
The former midfielder was inevitably asked about his future after arriving at Barcelona’s El Prat airport, as reported by Mundo Deportivo. However, Xavi was giving little away and said only, “Really, I don’t know anything. I’m coming on vacation, I don’t know anything.”
Xavi certainly hasn’t travelled light which has added to speculation he may be back in Barcelona for more than just a vacation. According to reporter David Bernabeu Reverter, the Al Sadd coach has arrived with 22 suitcases.
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Xavi Set For Barcelona Talks
The former Barcelona midfielder will “take advantage of his stay in Catalonia to step up negotiations with Barça,” according to Diario Sport. The “main focus of the talks” will be “the power” Xavi will have in terms of rebuilding the squad.
Laporta wants to bring Xavi back to have “his own man” in charge, similar to his first spell as president when he employed Frank Rijkaard and Pep Guardiola. Both coaches were former players who, similar to Xavi, lacked top-class managerial experience.
Yet there’s no guarantee that Xavi will take over this summer. Some members of the Barcelona board “feel it’s not the right moment” but, currently at least, nothing is being ruled out, according to Samuel Marsden and Moises Llorens at ESPN.
The report adds that Koeman will not be sacked unless Laporta can find a suitable successor to take his place. The Dutchman still has a year left on his current contract with the Catalan giants and told reporters before Sunday’s defeat to Celta Vigo he wants to continue.
Koeman Set For Final Barcelona Match?
Koeman will take charge of Barcelona once again on Saturday in what is the club’s final La Liga match of the season. The Catalan giants are at already-relegated Eibar and will be hoping to sign off with a win.
The game could be Koeman’s last as Barcelona manager and he has a few issues to deal with regarding his team selection. First-choice goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen has joined Sergi Roberto, Philippe Coutinho, and Ansu Fati on the injured list.
Center-back Clement Lenglet will also miss the match through suspension after being sent off in Sunday’s loss to Celta. The defender has endured a tough season at Barcelona and has struggled for form throughout the campaign.
Koeman will be able to count on key man Frenkie de Jong once again. The midfielder was suspended for the visit of Celta but will be available and is likely to start in place of Ilaix Moriba. Young defender Oscar Mingueza could also come back into the starting XI after missing Sunday’s match as he featured for Barca B in the team’s promotion play-off.