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Barcelona close in on Xavi as B team coach Sergi Barjuan named interim boss

The 41-year-old is coach of Al Sadd in Qatar and was reportedly in talks with Barca president Joan Laporta this morning.

Former midfielder Xavi is set to return to Camp Nou.
Former midfielder Xavi is set to return to Camp Nou.
Image: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Updated Oct 28th 2021, 2:57 PM

BARCELONA ARE CLOSE to finalising Xavi Hernandez’s long-anticipated return as coach, according to various reports in the Catalan press, with B team coach Sergi Barjuan put in temporary charge following the sacking of Ronald Koeman.

Barca president Joan Laporta was reportedly in talks with Xavi about the vacant position this morning.

Xavi is currently coach of Al Sadd but prising him away from the Qatari club is not expected to be a problem, with the Spaniard eager to complete a sensational return.

The 41-year-old left Barcelona in 2015 on the back of winning the treble, which took his career tally to eight titles in La Liga and four in the Champions League.

He is widely considered one of the club’s greatest ever players and there is huge excitement about his potential as a coach, after his influence on the iconic Barca team managed by Pep Guardiola.

Barcelona’s scheduled morning training session on Thursday was put back to 5pm (4pm Irish time) and will be taken by Barjuan, who is likely to be in charge for the game at home to Alaves on Saturday.

Barca have three games to negotiate before the international break, against Alaves and Celta Vigo in La Liga, as well as a crucial Champions League trip to Dynamo Kiev in between.

The club’s B team coach Sergi Barjuan could be put in charge for the game at home to Alaves on Saturday but the hope is for Xavi to be on the bench versus Dynamo, when Barcelona need to win to boost hopes of reaching the last 16.

spain-joan-laporta-new-president-of-fc-barcelona Club president Joan Laporta celebrates his election in March. Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

Barca had won only two of their last seven league games under Koeman, a run that included losing to Real Madrid in Sunday’s Clasico at Camp Nou.

Youngsters like Pedri, Gavi, Nico Gonzalez, Sergino Dest and Ronald Araujo have all benefited from Koeman’s faith, but more established players have suffered a drop in form.

Koeman’s honest approach was largely accepted and even appreciated last season, but his downbeat assessment of his squad this term was seen by many as counter-productive and not befitting of a Barcelona coach.

There was criticism of Koeman’s style of play, which became increasingly direct, while the board were reportedly irritated by his straying from the club’s traditions of playing 4-3-3.

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But results were the key factor, as consecutive 3-0 defeats by Bayern Munich and Benfica in the Champions League were followed by losses against Atletico and Real Madrid in the league.

Laporta said before the international break that Koeman “deserved the benefit of the doubt”, moving to end speculation that he would lose his job after the defeat by Atletico earlier this month.

But faced with an early exit in the Champions League and the possibility of failing to make the top four in La Liga, Laporta decided to act.

© – AFP, 2021

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