Barcelona Transfer News: Xavi Exit Talk Grows, Players Will Vote for New Captain

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistMay 23, 2014

BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 01:  Xavi Hernandez of FC Barcelona runs with the ball during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Valencia CF at Camp Nou on February 1, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Xavi Hernandenz is once again rumoured to be on the verge of exiting Barcelona, according to Spanish press.

The Blaugrana veteran—who began his development through the club's youth ranks in 1991—is said to be the main target of Al Jazira, as reported by AS (via Dermot Corrigan of ESPN FC):

AS claims that Abu Dhabi club Al Jazira—which is owned by Manchester City chief Sheik Mansour—are interested in signing the playmaker this summer. This could then be a season-long stepping stone before moving on to the New York City franchise, which City are also involved in, and which is due to begin playing in the 2015-16 MLS season.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18:  Xavi Hernandez of Barcelona battles with Yaya Toure of Manchester City during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Manchester City and Barcelona at the Etihad Stadium on February 18, 2014 in Man
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

This rumour follows on from Xavi being linked to Manchester City, among other Premier League sides, per Paul Hetherington of the Daily Star. The 34-year-old's game time was slightly reduced last season under Gerardo Martino, but with Luis Enrique now in charge, his role is yet to be determined.

Xavi made just 26 La Liga starts during the 2013-14 campaign, per With the fresher legs of Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and Sergio Busquets to compete against, it's understandable why the legendary midfielder isn't as pivotal to Barcelona's output as he once was.

Jordi Alba believes Xavi has a bright future at the club: "Xavi Hernandez has the respect of everyone, from Luis Enrique to the fans of the club," said Alba, reported by Marca and via Corrigan. "Xavi deserves all respect and I believe that Luis Enrique sees in him an important player."

Despite dwindling playing time, Xavi remains a key leader in the Blaugrana squad. This is a player, after all, who has won every trophy possible for both club and country. With Carles Puyol and Victor Valdes stepping away from the Camp Nou, Xavi's importance is likely to galvanise across the coming weeks.

He is undoubtedly a candidate for the club's main captaincy. Although Barcelona often utilise a quartet of club captains, Puyol has taken on the main role during matches and throughout interactions with the media. Barcelona traditionally let the longest-serving player complete these responsibilities, something Xavi now qualifies for.

However, Enrique has suggested he wants the squad to determine their main leader, per Corrigan:

A captain is not whoever lifts the cup or shakes hands with the referee, it is much more. The captains should be the reference points for the players, they should be voted for and that's it. I know the personalities of the Barca players and those who can be captains.

PARIS, FRANCE - APRIL 02:  Xavi (#6) of Barcelona celebrates scoring a penalty for his teams second goal with Jordi Alba during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final match between Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona FCB at Parc des Princes on April 2, 201
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Enrique confirmed he isn't looking for "captains who are the most handsome, the most veteran, the nicest guys or those who sign the most autographs," noted by Corrigan. He is looking for a leader on the pitch, which doesn't always link in with the longest-serving candidate.

Xavi possesses the experience, temperament and footballing brain to help usher Barcelona's new era in. He is one of world football's greatest readers of the game, someone who consistently analyses the match whether in possession or not, and is more than capable of helping younger squad members develop. His low-key attitude off the pitch may even help Barca after a year of high-profile failings.

Enrique's decision to usher in player power is commendable and assures there will be no hard feelings within the squad. A former Barcelona captain himself, the new boss understands exactly what is needed to lead such an elite side toward a successful future laden with trophies.