FC Barcelona have finally announced the return of club legend Xavi as the new manager after the Spaniard left Qatari side Al-Sadd on Friday.
Xavi signs a two-and-a-half year deal and takes over the job last held by Ronald Koeman, who was relieved of his duties last week following Barca’s abject defeat to minnows Rayo Vallecano, which left the Catalan giants sitting miserable in ninth place in the league.
His first game will be after the international break in the derby against Espanyol on November 20 and the club released the news alongside an emotional video of his best moments at the club.
Barca said in a statement just before 2am Spanish time on Saturday: ‘FC Barcelona have reached an agreement with Xavi Hernandez for him to become first team coach for the rest of the current season and two more seasons.
‘Xavi Hernandez, a youth team product at Barça, has left his current club, Al-Sadd of Qatar, after talks held over the last few days with the owners of the club.
‘It is expected that Xavi Hernandez will arrive in Barcelona this weekend and that on Monday 8 November his presentation as new FC Barcelona first team coach will take place in an event open to the public at Camp Nou.
‘After the event Xavi Hernandez will appear in a press conference in the Ricard Maxenchs press room.’
Xavi has been drafted back into the fold to take charge of the club he left as a player in 2015 following 17 years of extraordinary success, after Barca fought to take him from Qatari club Al-Sadd and he begged to be allowed to return home.
Xavi, 41, won LaLiga eight times and the Champions League four times as a player at the Nou Camp – as well as the 2010 World Cup and two European Championships with Spain – before ending his career with Al-Sadd.
He has been honing his coaching skills in the Middle East for the last two years, all the while appearing to be groomed as a future Barca boss – and the job he was always destined for is now his, albeit in difficult circumstances.
Barcelona are in an unprecedented crisis: they are over £1billion in debt due to the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic; they are without talisman Lionel Messi, who they were forced to relinquish to PSG in the summer as they were unable to pay his wages; and they are in a desperate state on the pitch, with miserable players, forced to take pay cuts, limping from one bad result to another at home and in Europe under Koeman.
Xavi has taken over after two heartening results following Koeman’s departure, a 3-1 win over Valencia and a 1-0 Champions League victory against Dinamo Kiev, but the scale of his task is enormous, especially for a rookie manager.