Xavi Hernandez to depart as Barcelona manager

Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez announced on Saturday his decision to step down at the season's end, following a 5-3 home defeat to Villarreal in LaLiga. This loss, marking their third in the last five games across all competitions, places Barca third in the table, 10 points behind Real Madrid and eight behind Girona in second.

Publication: 28.01.2024 - 12:32
Xavi Hernandez to depart as Barcelona manager
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"After a thoughtful discussion with club president Joan Laporta, I've concluded that I should leave my role as Barca coach as of June 30," Xavi said in a press conference. "The club needs a new dynamic, and I believe this change will bring calmness and liberation to the players and fans."

Despite a successful tenure as a player, making 767 appearances and winning 25 trophies, including four Champions League titles and eight LaLiga crowns, Xavi has faced mounting pressure due to Barca's inconsistent performance. The team's recent defeats, including a loss in the Spanish Super Cup final to Real Madrid and an exit in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals, have intensified scrutiny. They also face a challenging Champions League last-16 tie against Napoli.

Xavi, 44, described his conversation with Laporta as heartfelt and sensible. "It's not about money but my love for the club," he explained. "I don't want to be a burden. Today's game shows we need a change in direction. Until June, I'll strive to be part of the solution, not the problem."

Barcelona's struggles on the field mirror the club's off-field turmoil, including deep financial issues and a refereeing scandal involving alleged payments totaling over 7.3 million euros to firms owned by former refereeing official Jose Maria Enriquez Negreira. With an ongoing court case, massive wage bills, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a 1.6 billion-euro stadium renovation project, the challenges are significant.

"Being Barca's manager is demanding. People often overlook your effort," Xavi remarked. "It's time for me to take a break and be with my family. Continuing in this role doesn't make sense and affects not only the club but also my personal life."