Barcelona veteran midfielder Xavi Hernandez is reportedly set to stay at the Camp Nou for the coming season despite widespread speculation that he was on his way out.
According to Moises Llorens in AS, the 34-year-old has decided to stay on at the club after discussions with new Barca boss Luis Enrique assured him he still had a role to play, though not as a consistent starter:
Xavi Hernandez is to stay at Barcelona until at least 30 June 2015. The midfielder, who was close to signing for Qatari outfit Al Arabi, had also been in contact with new MLS franchise New York City in recent days. However, he will join up with Barca’s first-team training on 24 July.
The news comes on the back of recent reports which seemed to suggest that a deal for Xavi to move to New York was all but done, per Pete Jenson in the Daily Mail.
However, the Spanish international now looks set to add to his already mind-boggling 723 club appearances at Barcelona in the coming season.
Although getting on in years, Barcelona-born Xavi—who has been at the club since the age of 11—still made 30 La Liga appearances as his team finished second in the Spanish top flight behind Atletico Madrid last term.
WhoScored.com illustrates the influence he has had for the club over the past five seasons, showing that when it comes to delivering the ball, there is no one to match him:
Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu said earlier this month that if Xavi wanted to leave he would have the support of Barcelona, per AS via John-Paul Tooth on Goal.com:
He has spent many years in the first team and has earned the right to decide [whether or not to leave the club]. We will respect his decision.
The day he leaves, he will go down in history as the best [Barcelona] player [ever]. If he wants to stay with us, [we will be] delighted, if he wants to go we will help.
Xavi deserves the esteem in which he is held, and the club and its hierarchy will no doubt be delighted he has agreed to stay on, as his vast experience will likely be invaluable both on and off the pitch as the Catalan giants look to regain the La Liga title next season.
The arrival of Ivan Rakitic at Barca from Sevilla over the summer will no doubt see Xavi's opportunities more limited, but, as The New York Times's Stefan Bienkowski highlights, the Croatian is not actually a like-for-like replacement, so the Spaniard's continued presence will be very helpful:
His time at the Camp Nou will come to an end sometime—difficult to believe, considering his longevity—but it seems as though that impasse has not been reached quite yet.