Barcelona have reportedly convinced club legend Xavi to remain with the Spanish giants for now, and the presence of the experienced veteran could be key for the club's success going into the 2014-15 season.
As reported by Goal's Pilar Suarez, the midfielder has decided against a foreign adventure, despite president Josep Maria Bartomeu telling AS (h/t to Goal) Barcelona were willing to help him in his search for a new club less than three weeks ago:
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 will return here because he will be a great coach
The 34-year-old was expected to depart the club for a lucrative offer in the MLS or Qatar following a 2013-14 season in which the Blaugrana grew less and less reliant on his services.
Dropped for the team's vital title-clash against Atletico Madrid, Xavi now faces the prospect of having to compete for minutes with Ivan Rakitic, who was signed from Sevilla at the start of the summer transfer window.
Rakitic will likely make the team's starting XI either at the start of the season, or soon after. High-priced acquisitions don't usually spend much time on the bench, and it's understandable Xavi's skills are deteriorating, given his age.
Xavi doesn't have to look at the Croatian as competition, however. The passing wizard has reached the stage of his career where his value on the pitch is overshadowed by his value off it.
The man is a club legend, admired by the fans and his teammates for his excellent work ethic and the countless trophies he has won with Barcelona. He understands the club and its philosophy like no other, and it's no surprise Bartomeu is already talking about his future as a coach.
Xavi can still be an incredibly valuable player used as a utility man, someone who understands the system and can help out in case of injury or whenever a starter needs a rest.
Against teams parking the bus, his phenomenal skill as a distributor can break a defensive wall in a split-second. And against better, more athletic teams, younger options like Rakitic would be preferred.
Via WhoScored.com, his abilities as a passer are second to none:
Xavi: Has completed 3173 more passes than any other player in Europe's top 5 leagues in the last 5 seasons (13628); Busquets second (10455)— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) July 22, 2014
Used less frequently than he was last season, the veteran could conserve all of his energy for when it matters, adding to his value as a player. As a mentor in the dressing room, the club couldn't ask for a better option.
As stated before, Xavi understands Barcelona's brand of football. The club has already signed several new players, and these new arrivals will have to learn how to play the game the way it's played at the Camp Nou.
Rakitic in particular will have to adapt to the quick passing and constant movement of every single attacking option, and there truly is no better guide than the man who has been doing it for years.
On the pitch, Xavi's impact will likely be more limited than it was in previous years. But looking at the entire package, his presence as a leader and a mentor for the new players could make the difference between a return to greatness for the Blaugrana or a season similar to the one we just saw.