With a sense of accomplishment, the legendary club can now leave Catalunya having assisted the Blaugrana manager help them win again against all odds. “In June, I’ll be leaving Barcelona.
There’s nothing left for us to turn now. We need to make a change. I believe it’s time to go as a Cule.” Xavi made the announcement on Saturday night that he would be leaving Barcelona at the end of the season.
That was a classy declaration, a mature attitude from a team that has recently been associated with crude jokes and blatant social media taunts. When seen out of context, this might be seen as cowardly and an early departure for one of Barcelona’s favorite sons. When you pan out, everything becomes quite clear:
With 88 points, they won the Spanish premier division for the first time in four years last season. If they keep going at this pace, they should finish the season with a respectable 80. But, being three losses worse off than the previous season is just too much for a club that was anticipated to get out to a fast start. When you consider that this is Barcelona—the team that is home to Lionel Messi, Pep Guardiola, and Johan Cruyff—Xavi was never going to be able to stay on the job after losing so many games, at least not until the end of the season.
With all of this, there is some honor to be discovered. Xavi is not going to be praised for leaving the club or implored to stay. Club president Joan Laporta reluctantly agreed to his choice to leave, and there were probably a lot of sighs of relief thereafter for all sides.
This season still has a lot of football left to play, and there will be many more twists and turns. Even though he should have gone much farther on this side, Xavi has handled his exit with class and humility after earning a valuable La League championship the previous season.
Xavi, an outsider as Al Sadd manager, returned to Barcelona after a difficult start to the 2020-21 season. Ronald Koeman was relieved of duties but was sacked after a 2-1 Clasico defeat. Barca’s managerial post was not valuable for the first time in nearly 20 years, as the club had lost key players like Messi and Luis Suarez. Xavi, who played with Guardiola, had made public his desire to be Barca manager and was a perfect match for new president Joan Laporta.
Xavi returned to Barcelona as a hero, with proteges like Gavi and Pedri, projects like Frenkie de Jong and Ronald Araujo, and Dani Alves as a free agent. However, the novelty wore off as Champions League success became a priority. Barca’s final-day match against Bayern Munich was a 3-0 loss, tumbling into the Europa League. The next few months saw Barca make a slight push towards the top, but were pegged back by draws and a Europa League semi-final exit to Frankfurt.
Barcelona’s manager, Xavi, faced numerous challenges during the summer of 2022, including a lack of investment from Koeman and a lack of resources. Despite this, Xavi managed to rebuild the ailing squad through short-term financial deals. The club’s La Liga-winning season was marked by a strong defence, with players like Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Jules Kounde, Andreas Christensen, and De Jong returning. Despite facing financial issues and allegations of a secretive scheme, Xavi’s performance was praised for his resilience and ability to weather the storm.
Xavi’s performance at Barcelona has been a mixed affair, with numerous minor faults and concerning signs. The team’s poor form, including a Europa League loss to Manchester United, an increase in goals conceded, and a Lewandowski scoring drought, has led to concerns about the future of the player. The squad has been overly focused on areas that didn’t need much work, and has been outrun in midfield and defense. The team has allowed three goals in the first minute in all competitions, a record for the previous 18 seasons combined.
Xavi’s decision to leave Laporta is a surprise, as he had previously hinted at a possible exit. Despite his success, football rarely rewards failure, and managers are often conditioned to stay until they are no longer good enough to do so. Xavi is seen as a tragic hero, saving Laporta’s reputation and saving the club from a difficult situation. However, he has also done something dangerous, as there are still four months left in the season and a Champions League knockout tie. This has led to awkward discussions about his squad, including Lewandowski’s future and the potential sale of De Jong.