Turki Al-Ali, the CEO of Qatari football club Al-Sadd, announced Friday they've reached an agreement to allow manager Xavi to leave the team to take over at Barcelona.
The Spanish side paid an undisclosed amount to trigger a release clause so Xavi, who played most of his decorated club career with Barca, could return to Camp Nou:
🏆 #76 Al Sadd SC | نادي السد @AlsaddSC
Turki Al-Ali: Xavi informed us a few days ago of his desire to go to Barcelona at this particular time, because of the critical stage his hometown club is going through, and we understand this and decided not to stand in his way.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AlSadd?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AlSadd</a>
Xavi joined Barcelona's famed youth academy, La Masia, in 1991 at the age of 11, and he didn't leave the club until 2015 after more than 700 appearances for the first team.
The playmaker was often the engine who made the Blaugrana's attack run, a role he also played to near perfection for the Spanish national team.
His list of accolades includes eight La Liga and four Champions League trophies at Barca along with the 2010 World Cup title with and two European Championships with Spain.
Xavi joined Al-Sadd as a player in 2015 and transitioned into the role of manager in 2019. He guided the side to the Qatar Stars League title last season.
The 41-year-old Barca legend confirmed Wednesday he was hoping a deal would get worked out that would allow him to take over as the storied club's manager:
"It's a question of common sense, and in the end it has to happen. I am excited. I'm really looking forward to returning home. I hope it happens. It would be spectacular to coach Barca. The two clubs are in conversations. I can't say a lot more, but I'm a positive person. They have to reach an agreement. That's where it's at. The two clubs know my position and I hope there is a solution soon."
Barcelona is off to a sluggish start to the 2021-22 term, which led manager Ronald Koeman to being sacked in late October. It sits ninth in the La Liga table having won four and lost four of its opening 11 matches, and it's staring down a critical UCL fixture against Benfica on Nov. 23 that will play a key role in determining which side advances to the knockout rounds.
It's unlikely the managerial change will be finalized in time for Xavi to take over for Saturday's La Liga clash with Celta Vigo, so interim coach Sergi Barjuan will likely remain in place for one more game. Then Xavi will have the two-week international break to get settled.
The longtime midfielder will then be tasked with moving Barcelona back toward consistent trophy contention as part of a new era that began in earnest over the summer when Lionel Messi left for Paris Saint-Germain.