DOHA: Xavi Hernandez said on Wednesday he was “looking forward to going home” and hopes Barcelona can reach an agreement with Al Sadd in “a matter of hours, maybe days” to secure his return to the club as coach. Xavi is Barca’s first choice to replace Ronald Koeman but the Spaniard has two years left to run on his contract with the Qatari club, where he took over as coach in 2019.
“The two clubs are in talks and it needs to be resolved,” Xavi said after Al Sadd’s 3-3 draw with Al Duhail on Wednesday. “I am looking forward to going home, as you can imagine, but it is a matter of respect. I have a contract and the two clubs have to agree. I am very excited to go home and even more to be Barcelona coach, which has a lot of responsibility, but I very am excited and motivated.”
Xavi said there was a “small release clause” in his Al Sadd contract, reportedly set at around five million euros ($5.8 million). He appeared optimistic an agreement would be found. “I am very positive, that’s how I am, I have been very clear about what I want,” said Xavi. “I think it is a matter of hours, maybe days. They know my position, hopefully it can be done.”
Barcelona sent vice-president Rafa Yuste and director of football Mateu Alemany to Doha for talks on Wednesday but club president Joan Laporta did not travel with them. Alemany and Yuste both watched Al Sadd’s game against Al Duhail from the stands. Al Sadd chief executive Turki Al-Ali wrote in a statement earlier on Wednesday: “We welcome the visit of the administrative delegation from Barcelona, and we appreciate and respect this. The club’s position is clear from the beginning – we are committed to keeping our coach Xavi with us and we cannot have him leave at this sensitive time of the season.”
Xavi was seen greeting his players one-by-one in the tunnel after the full-time whistle. Al Sadd midfielder Santi Cazorla, the former Arsenal player, said: “We wish Xavi the best, we want what’s best for him. I am very grateful for all that he has done for me. Now we have to wait and see what happens.” Barcelona’s B team coach Sergi Barjuan is expected to remain in charge for Saturday’s La Liga match away at Celta Vigo, with Xavi potentially taking over during the international break.
Xavi’s first game would then be against rivals Espanyol on November 20 at Camp Nou. The 41-year-old joined Al Sadd as a player in 2015 after making 767 appearances for Barcelona. He won eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues with Barca and is considered one of the club’s greatest ever players. – AFP