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Al-Sadd: Xavi Hernandez, Barcelona Links 'Normal' Amid Ernesto Valverde Rumours

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistJanuary 10, 2020

DOHA, QATAR - DECEMBER 17: Al-Sadd Head Coach Xavier Hernandez gestures during the FIFA Club World Cup 5th place match between Al-Sadd Sports Club and Esperance Sportive de Tunis at Khalifa International Stadium on December 17, 2019 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)
Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

Al-Sadd have released a statement saying speculation linking Xavi Hernandez with a move back to Barcelona to become the club's manager are "normal." 

The current Blaugrana head coach Ernesto Valverde has been under pressure throughout the previous two campaigns and scrutiny over his position intensified on Thursday, when Barcelona lost 3-2 to Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup.

Xavi, who is a legendary figure at the Camp Nou, has been mentioned as a possible replacement if the Catalan giants were to make a change. Al-Sadd, where the 39-year-old is currently the manager, released the following statement in response to the reports through their general manager Turki Al-Ali, per Sport:

"The possibility that Xavi goes to Barcelona at any moment is normal, and we hope that he returns in the future because it was his club and his first home. But as of today, Xavi is the coach of Al-Sadd club.

"Xavi is focused on (Saturday's) game and any negotiation over his departure will be through the official channels."

AlSadd S.C | نادي السد @AlsaddSC

Turki Al-Ali: Xavi is focusing on tomorrow’s game, any talk about his departure will be made through official channels Read: https://t.co/HuJmurmMu3 #AlSadd https://t.co/y9DLDE8Dnz

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Al-Sadd are currently in third in the Qatar Stars League and will face the team in second spot, Al Rayyan, on Saturday.

According to Juan Jimenez of AS, Barcelona chief executive Oscar Grau and sporting director Eric Abidal met with Xavi in Doha on Friday. In the piece, it's suggested the meeting "was to sound out the ex-Blaugrana star on potentially taking over from Valverde next season."

Samuel Marsden of ESPN FC commented on the reports, noting that Xavi has interests away from football that may prevent him from taking the position:

Samuel Marsden @samuelmarsden

@moillorens It's a tricky one for Xavi, who you have to imagine will be Barca coach one day, but would the timing be right? In addition, as @dermotmcorrigan says, he's been closely linked to presidential candidate Victor Font, who will run in 2021 elections.

If Xavi was to be given the job, it would be a popular appointment with Barcelona supporters, as he is considered one of the greatest players in the club's history. In a 17-year stint in the first team, the playmaker won eight La Liga titles and the UEFA Champions League on four occasions.

As the La Liga Twitter account noted earlier this season, he and Andres Iniesta formed an outstanding midfield partnership:

LaLiga @LaLigaEN

Name a better midfield duo than Xavi & @andresiniesta8...🔝✌ #LaLigaSantander https://t.co/o7c6iTaUiR

For now, Valverde remains in charge and Barcelona are still in the hunt for La Liga and Champions League glory in 2020. However, Spanish football writer Colin Millar believes the time would have been right for the coach to leave ahead of the current season:

Colin Millar @Millar_Colin

Ernesto Valverde has been a successful Barcelona boss, he has had an excellent coaching career and is an affable leader. But the time was right to go last summer and this season is almost certainly his last. Barça fans may want him gone now, but problems go beyond the coach.

While Barcelona have enjoyed success under Valverde—he's won two league titles in his two full seasons—the brand of football played by the club under his tenure has left some fans miffed. The embarrassing Champions League collapses against Roma and Liverpool have also left a bitter taste.

Xavi would be an exciting successor, although he is still inexperienced when it comes to coaching. He only took over as Al-Sadd boss in May, having retired from playing.

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