Barça make Xavi's return official in the early hours of the morning

Releasing him from Al-Sadd has cost five million euros and he will make his debut in the derby against Espanyol

4 min
Xavi Hernandez

BarcelonaAll roads led to Xavi Hernández. Closing the return of the Terrassa native, however, has been difficult. So much so that Barça's official announcement came early this Saturday morning, just before two o'clock. By the evening of Friday, the club had closed the deal, with only the final drafting and supervision of the contracts by the lawyers of both parties still to be completed. Xavi will arrive in the Catalan capital this weekend. The coach, who will make his debut in the derby against Espanyol, arrives to lead a new project and restore the team's faith.

The former Barça captain travels this Saturday accompanied by his family and his staff, as well as by the representatives who have been in Doha over the last few days to negotiate with Al-Sadd: the sporting vice-president, Rafa Yuste, and the director of football, Mateu Alemany. Xavi will be presented this Monday, in an appearance where the president Joan Laporta will also be present and where the details of the payment of the clause of five million to the Qatari club to release the coach will be explained.

Barça, squeezed by the delicate economic situation and the financial fair play of La Liga, tried to avoid paying this amount by seeking "various formulas" of understanding with the leaders of Al-Sadd, but finally the figure will have to be transferred in an operation that will be assumed by Barça - probably by delaying the payment - but in which it is not ruled out that Xavi will also participate. Pending the explanations that Laporta will give on Monday, this amount could be compensated in the future with commercial and sponsorship links between both entities (and Xavi himself) or the celebration of a friendly match.

Al-Sadd surprises with statement

Yesterday's decisive day was not without its delirious moments. Shortly before midday (Catalan time), Al-Sadd made official on Twitter the departure of Xavi via payment of the clause, but Barça did not take long to deny this agreement and in the Catalan club they were perplexed that the Qatari entity - annoyed by the non-presence in the negotiations of president Laporta -, decided this move. The day progressed and while the give and take to unblock the payment of the clause continued, Xavi said goodbye to his players while Al-Sadd shared images of the Catalan coach, visibly moved, on social networks.

Xavi says goodbye to Al-Sadd and arrives at Barça to replace Koeman after Laporta called him to sign him following the defeat against Rayo a few days ago, as ARA reported on 28 October in the early hours of the morning. The relationship between the midfielder and the president, which had cooled during the election period, was normalised during the October stoppage. Xavi will sign with Barça until 30 June 2024. It is a long contract, for two and a half years, but it is based on conditions that are in line with the institution's tight salary situation. The player from Terrassa returns home with a low salary and a team of collaborators made up of seven people: Òscar Hernández -his brother- and Sergio Alegre as assistants, Ivan Torres as physical trainer, the physical trainer Carlos Rodríguez and a trident of scouts formed by David Canals, Sergio García and Toni Lobo. All of them have accompanied him in Qatar. For the moment there will be no changes in the medical services or in grassroots football.

Undoubtedly, the heaviest part of the deal to recruit Xavi has been with Al-Sadd. In Qatar they demanded Laporta's assistance, but in the end the president has avoided being photographed with an undemocratic regime. However, in exchange for taking Xavi with a valid contract, Barça had to pay a penalty clause which, from the outset, will also affect Xavi's pocket.

A legendary footballer

Xavi, who will be able to school his two young children in Catalonia and recover contact with his family and friends, as well as traditions that he missed such as going mushroom picking, returns to Barça as a consensus coach at a time of very low morale. Months after the traumatic traumatic departure of Leo Messi and with a team led by the young Ansu Fati, the Catalan has the challenge of improving the team with the style of play that he has always defended: possession, position and pressure. He will take over with the team standing halfway down the table and many injured players, but with a slight improvement in the Champions League after two victories against Dynamo Kiev.

Xavi Hernandez celebrating the 2011 Champions League.

If Barcelona fans agree that Xavi had to coach the first team someday it is thanks to his footballing skills and formidable career at a club he arrived in aged 11. Joining the first team under Louis van Gaal in 1998, he ended up playing 17 seasons in the first team, in which he lifted 25 trophies –including four Champions Leagues– and became one of the leaders of the best Barça in history, along with Leo Messi, Andrés Iniesta, Victor Valdés and Carles Puyol, from whom he inherited the captain's armband in 2014. A year later, in his last year as a Barça player, he won a new triple crown (Copa del Rey, La Liga and Champions League). The last of the 767 games he played with Barça at the old Camp Nou, at home, was against Deportivo. None other in the history of the club has played so many. The legend is seasoned with 85 goals and 184 assists.

In 2015 he left for Al-Sadd to finish his professional career and become a Qatari ambassador with an eye on the 2022 World Cup, which is organised in the emirate. Dressed in white, Xavi played four seasons (117 games and 25 goals) and added four more titles to his trophy cabinet: a league, an Emir's Cup, a Prince's Cup and a Super Cup. In terms of success, he has fared much better as coach, winning one league title, two Emir Cups, one Super Cup, two league Super Cups and one All-Star Cup in slightly over two seasons.