Xavi has reportedly been offered a deal to replace Ernesto Valverde as Barcelona manager, and Al-Sadd have confirmed talks are taking place regarding a move.
Sporting director Mohammed Gholam told BeIN (h/t AFP) that negotiations between the two clubs and the 39-year-old are underway:
"I will not deny that. There are negotiations about Xavi and everyone is talking about them...but I can say that Xavi so far is at Al-Sadd. The final decision is in the hands of Al-Sadd's management, in the hands of the manager, and the hands of Barcelona's management."
Xavi refuted rumours that he'd be joining the Blaugrana, per Samuel Marsden of Sport and ESPN:
Barcelona's sporting director, Eric Abidal, and chief executive officer, Oscar Grau, met Xavi in Doha on Friday and offered him a two-and-a-half-year contract, according to Juan Jimenez at AS.
The Catalan giants want the club legend to replace Valverde, who has come under renewed pressure after losing 3-2 to Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup on Thursday.
Valverde took charge of Barcelona in 2017 and has won two league titles and the Copa del Rey with the club, but he is not popular among supporters. The club's fans do not like the 55-year-old's conservative style of play, and damaging UEFA Champions League defeats to Roma and Liverpool in recent years have drawn criticism of his tactics.
The Barcelona boss has guided his team to the top of La Liga in 2019-20 and into the knockout stages of the Champions League, but doubts remain over his stewardship. Barcelona remain vulnerable defensively and have conceded 23 goals in 19 La Liga games, and they continue to look overreliant on Lionel Messi's enduring brilliance:
Thursday's defeat to Atletico brought fresh scrutiny on Valverde after Barcelona threw away a 2-1 lead to go down 3-2, although key players such as Messi and Luis Suarez defended their manager after the game, via ESPN FC:
Marca's Luis F. Rojo reported that Barcelona want Xavi to replace Valverde "immediately," but the Barcelona coach will stay in his job if the club legend turns the offer down.
Xavi came through Barca's famous La Masia youth academy and went on to captain the side, winning eight league titles and four Champions League crowns with the Catalan giants.
The midfielder left to join Al-Sadd in 2015 and was appointed manager on a two-year contract in May 2019. The job is his first managerial role, but he has made it clear it would be his "dream" to manage Barcelona in the future, per Marca (h/t Football Espana).
Al-Sadd issued a calm response to the initial rumours and said they expect him to return to Barcelona at some point in the future:
Xavi knows Barcelona inside-out and would be a popular appointment with supporters, but it would represent something of a risk given his lack of top-level managerial experience.
ESPN FC's Samuel Marsden questioned whether the timing was right for Xavi to come back to the Camp Nou:
There seems no doubt that Valverde is heading towards the end of his time at Barcelona. His contract expires at the end of the season, although the club have the option to extend it for one more.
A contract extension looks unlikely given Barcelona's less-than-convincing form this season, but it remains to be seen if Xavi will agree to take on one of the biggest jobs in world football so early in his managerial career.