Updates from Monday, Aug. 18
Xavi has been officially cleared to play for Barcelona in Monday's Gamper Trophy clash with Leon.
Barca's official Twitter confirmed:
Updates from Thursday, Aug. 14
Xavi continues to work on his fitness away from the rest of the Barcelona squad as he recovers from a calf problem.
Barca's official website provides the following update:
Xavi Hernández and Marc-André ter Stegen once again trained apart as they worked on their recoveries, whilst Thomas Vermaelen was treated by the physios and Adriano Correia joined in with the rest of the squad for part of the session.
Xavi's hopes of maintaining his place in Barcelona's first team have been cropped with news of the Spanish midfielder suffering a calf injury during preseason training, reported by the club's website:
"Xavi Hernandez suffered a slight calf strain in his left leg during training this morning," reads the article. "Club doctors will decide when he can return to training over the next few days."
Dermot Corrigan of ESPN FC also noted the news:
First calf muscle injury already for Xavi in 14/15 - happened at training this morn say Barca: http://t.co/RDE2vis0wp— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) August 4, 2014
The 34-year-old, who recently confirmed he is staying at the Camp Nou amid rumours of a potential move to the MLS, per Sky Sports, looks set to face a battle against fitness as the new term approaches.
BBC Sport writer Andy West suggests Barcelona fans shouldn't be shocked by the news, and that Xavi might have been wiser to call time on his Blaugrana career at the conclusion of last season:
Xavi sidelined by calf injury. Sorry to say it but that was just a matter of time. Also sorry to say this but that's why he needs to leave.— Andy West (@andywest01) August 4, 2014
People were raving over Xavi's appearance v Nice on Sat. But playing for 45 mins after a month off is very different from week in week out.— Andy West (@andywest01) August 4, 2014
Xavi made 26 starts and four substitute appearances during a difficult 2013-14 domestic campaign, per WhoScored.com. He registered three goals and a duo of assists toward the club's second-place finish, but was largely unable to significantly impact the most important matches.
Will Xavi play more than 30 La Liga games for Barcelona next season?
The veteran midfielder has suffered multiple muscle strains in recent times, including spells of discomfort during November and December. He also missed vital World Cup matches with Spain after featuring in the nation's 5-1 defeat to the Netherlands. As such, Xavi appears to be in a constant battle against fitness problems perhaps brought on by his age.
New Barcelona boss Luis Enrique has signed Ivan Rakitic to play in central midfield, where he can offer stern defensive cover and a creative attacking outlet alongside Sergio Busquets. The Croatian's arrival was always going to limit Xavi's time in the first team, but may be given greater emphasis if the Barca icon doesn't sustain a consistent run of fitness.
Alex Song's return to training may also signal a larger role for the Cameroonian, per FCB's tweet:
Song back in training - Luis Enrique put 27 players through their paces back at the Ciutat Esportiva this mor... http://t.co/9ftrDvTjhy— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) August 4, 2014
Supporters can take heart from Xavi's style of play, which has never been defined by how nimble or quick he is. The midfielder played a major role in Barcelona's recent era of success through his intelligence and reading of the game. He is more likely to play the ball beyond a defender than beat him head-to-head, meaning his career could be sustained if the fitness problems stop.
Xavi remains a key leader at the club. He is likely to become even more influential off the pitch after Carles Puyol's decision to move on, but it would be disappointing to see the midfielder limited purely to an off-the-field impact. Xavi still possesses the quality to maintain and distribute possession masterfully, but one has to question how much longer he can battle through repetitive injury problems.
Enrique and Barcelona will be hoping to get at least one more season out of the player. There's a sense that Xavi wants to leave on a high and couldn't face exiting after last season's trophyless conclusion. That may well happen, but whether he plays a key role is debatable.