Xavi explains decision to stay as Barcelona head coach: ‘The project is not finished’

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Xavi explains decision to stay as Barcelona head coach: ‘The project is not finished’

Xavi says his project at Barcelona “is not finished” after it was confirmed that he would remain as head coach following the reversal of his initial decision to leave the club.

It was confirmed on Wednesday that the 44-year-old would remain as Barca’s head coach following discussions with sporting director Deco, who later accompanied Xavi in an emergency meeting with Joan Laporta at the club president’s personal residence.

Laporta announced the decision at a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

Xavi said: “The project is not finished. I think this is what’s best for the club.

“I’m a huge Barca fan. I have a high level of trust with the president and the board of directors. The complicity and support of the players has also been key. I want to thank them for their love and support.”

Laporta said that it was “great news” Xavi was staying, adding that “stability is one of the keys to success”.

In January, Xavi declared his intention to step down from his role following a disappointing 5-3 loss to Villarreal at home. Despite subsequent speculation suggesting otherwise, he consistently rebuffed any notion of prolonging his tenure.

His announcement came amid a remarkable 13-game unbeaten streak across all competitions. This impressive form propelled Barcelona to secure a spot in the Champions League quarter-finals and ascend to second place in La Liga, trailing league leaders Real Madrid by eight points.

Xavi has decided to remain at Barcelona (LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images)

However, their Champions League journey was cut short by Paris Saint-Germain, who overturned Barcelona’s first-leg advantage with a decisive 4-1 victory at Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys.

Five days later, Xavi’s team suffered another setback, losing 3-2 to arch-rivals Real in El Clasico. This defeat left Barca trailing Real by 11 points with only six matches remaining in the season.

Xavi assumed the role of Barca head coach in November 2021, succeeding Ronald Koeman on a permanent basis. His inaugural full season at the helm saw his side clinch the La Liga title, marking a promising start to his tenure.

However, Xavi faced challenges in European competitions, witnessing Barca’s exit from the Champions League group stage in consecutive seasons. Additionally, the team encountered difficulties in the Europa League, bowing out in the quarter-finals against Frankfurt in 2022 and in the knockout play-off round against Manchester United the following year.

Despite setbacks, this season’s European campaign demonstrated improvement, highlighted by victories over Napoli in the round of 16 after initial group stage losses to Shakhtar Donetsk and Royal Antwerp. Nevertheless, their journey was halted by PSG in the subsequent round.

In September 2023, Xavi committed to Barcelona for an extended period, signing a new contract through to 2025, with the possibility of an additional year.

Barca, meanwhile, are set to go this season without a trophy having exited the Copa del Rey at the quarter-final stage to eventual winners Athletic Bilbao in January, while losing the Spanish Supercup final against Real in the same month.

They are next in action on Monday in La Liga against Valencia.



Xavi’s Barcelona U-turn – the dramatic story behind his decision to stay

(LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images)