Xavi emphasised the importance of a "united" Barcelona and promised to do everything he can to improve results at the Camp Nou. 

The 41-year-old was recently appointed as Ronald Koeman's successor, returning to the club where he spent 17 seasons during his playing career.

The former Spain international has spent the past two and a half years in charge of Qatari club Al Sadd, and knows the extent of the task at hand to turn fortunes around at the Catalan giants, but wants the fans to get on board with the project from the start.

Speaking at a media conference ahead of his first game in charge against Espanyol on Saturday, Xavi said: "We need all the support. We will give our all on the field. We will not have a problem with attitude, that's for sure. We are going to give our all.

"We have to be united. We will try to make [the fans] happy, enjoying good football.

"It is more than a professional aspect. I am a Barca fan, and no-one is going to change this. I am going to give it my all to try and get good results.

"We are Barca, and we have to give more than 100 per cent.

"We’ve had group and individual chats, we don't have more time and I hope we can see things in the game and psychologically. We're here to get results.

"We cannot drop points, of course. We are ninth in the standings and that's the reality. We cannot drop points tomorrow. We have to win."

The World Cup winner also spoke about the importance of experience and youth in his squad, specifically mentioning the return of 38-year-old Dani Alves and the promise of 17-year-old Gavi.

"[Alves] is going to help us a lot in all aspects," he added. "I know him really well, he's a winner. He's so positive, he has a great character, and also on the field we saw it. We saw his last games, he's in great shape physically.

"He's an outstanding player, one of the best I saw in my career. He's going to help us a lot. It is a shame he won't be able to play until January.

"[Gavi] can play as a winger, an attacking midfielder, also as a pivot. He has a complete profile. He has good physical conditions. He's a versatile player, and a really important player for us."

Philippe Coutinho hopes Xavi can achieve success with the existing group of players at Barcelona. 

Xavi was presented as Barca's new head coach on Monday, returning to the club that formed him as a player and with whom we won 25 trophies during an illustrious 17 years.

The former midfielder is the permanent successor to Ronald Koeman, who was sacked following the 1-0 defeat at Rayo Vallecano on October 27. 

Sergi Barjuan stepped in for the interim and took charge of a win and two draws, the last of which saw Barca throw away a three-goal lead to draw 3-3 with Celta Vigo. They now sit ninth in LaLiga after 12 games, 11 points adrift of leaders Real Sociedad. 

However, Coutinho believes Xavi could well be the man to turn things around at Barca following the exits of Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann. 

"Xavi was a great player, an idol, and now he's back home at Barcelona," he told a news conference while on international duty with Brazil. "I hope he can be very successful with the group we have. 

"I was able to talk to him once when I had to visit some doctors in Qatar. I know what a great guy he is. He will definitely do a great job at Barcelona." 

Coutinho, who returned from nine months out with a knee injury in September, was accused by Catalan newspaper Sport of being lazy when warming-up on the sidelines against Celta. 

He denied that was the case and insisted he is keener than ever to put in work as he prepares to make his first Brazil appearance in over a year. 

"I was kind of surprised when I got home and saw the story. I've never lacked professionalism in my life. I've always respected everyone I work with. But it's okay. I respect the opinion of you journalists," he said. 

"On my selection [by Brazil], I'm very happy and really want to be here. I'm focused on working, to achieve things through working, in the 10 days I have here." 

He added: "I feel very good. It's obvious that being injured for nine months is not easy, returning from three surgeries in a row on the same knee. 

"But since I came back I haven't had any pain or discomfort. I feel good." 

Pep Guardiola has tipped Xavi to be a managerial success at Barcelona in his own right as he distanced himself from comparisons with his former colleague.

Xavi was paraded at Camp Nou in front of around 10,000 supporters on Monday as he was officially presented as Ronald Koeman's permanent successor.

He is back at the club where he spent 17 seasons during his playing career, racking up 767 appearances across that period – a tally only surpassed by Lionel Messi (778).

The 41-year-old won LaLiga eight times and the Champions League on four occasions before ending his 24-year association with the Catalan giants in 2015.

Six years on, and with two and a half years of coaching experience under his belt at Qatari side Al Sadd, Xavi is back in Catalonia and tasked with turning the tide at struggling Barca.

Xavi thrived under the management of former team-mate Guardiola, whom he described as the best coach in the world during his unveiling on Monday.

But Guardiola, who was among those present at Camp Nou for the presentation, does not want Xavi to be tied down by any comparisons to the club's successful past.

"I wasn't the heir to anybody and Xavi doesn't have to be my heir," Guardiola said. "If Joan Laporta has chosen Xavi then it's because there are millions of pros and few cons.

"He knows the club and will bring positive energy, given how he enjoys football and because of his dedication. He always sees the positive side of things."

"With his class, dedication and effort, I'm sure he'll improve the club's situation."

Guardiola won 14 trophies during an era-defining spell in charge of Barcelona – his first in senior management – before achieving success at Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

Speaking earlier on Monday, when asked about the similarities between himself and Guardiola, Xavi said: "He was a reference for me as a player and a manager. 

"I think he's the best manager in the world. If people want to compare me with him, that's a positive."

New Barcelona head coach Xavi says it is important the club no longer dwell on Lionel Messi's exit as they have others who can step up and fill the superstar forward's void.

Barca have got off to a poor start in their first season without Messi since 2003-04, the Catalans having won just six of their 16 matches in all competitions.

Argentina international Messi scored 672 goals and assisted 265 more across his 778 appearances for the club, amounting to 937 goal involvements in total.

Messi averaged a goal every 110.3 minutes in all competitions in his final season with Barca (38 goals in 47 games) before joining Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer.

 

That compares to a goal every 237.3 minutes for Barca's leading scorer Memphis Depay this term (six goals in 16 matches).

Ansu Fati inherited Messi's number 10 shirt and has averaged an encouraging one goal every 91.8 minutes in 2021-22, but that is across just eight matches and is set for another spell on the sidelines.

Only three others – Martin Braithwaite, Sergi Roberto and Gerard Pique (two each) – have scored multiple goals for Barca this season.

One of the big tasks on Xavi's hands after being officially presented as Ronald Koeman's successor on Monday is to get the most out of the attacking players available to him.

And while the Barca midfield legend would love to be able to call upon Messi and some other former team-mates, he is eager to look to the future rather than the past.

"I'd have liked to have managed Messi, of course, and also Samuel Eto'o, Ronaldinho... but they are not here," he said at a news conference.

"I still have a close friendship with Leo, that is well known. He has written to wish me luck. As always, he has joked around. He is a real joker.

"I wish him all the luck in the world. He is the best player in the history of football and obviously the history of this club, but we do not have him.

"We have other players that need to perform and be good in his place; players who can make a difference on the pitch. We cannot think about the players we do not have."

Messi's first three months at PSG have not entirely gone to plan either, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner having played in just eight of their 18 games due to niggling injuries.

He has had 15 shots without finding the net in Ligue 1, failing to score from an expected goals value of 1.9, with his only three goals to date coming in the Champions League.

Only Clermont Foot midfielder Jim Allevinah (16) and Troyes forward Renaud Ripart (19) have had more shots without scoring in the French top flight this term.

New Barcelona head coach Xavi believes Ousmane Dembele can be the best player in the world in his position and has urged the club to prioritise a new deal for the winger.

Dembele has failed to justify his transfer fee, reported at the time to be worth up to €147m with add-ons, since joining Barca from Borussia Dortmund in August 2017.

He has made 119 appearances for Barca in total, starting 76 of those. To put that into context, 10 players, three of whom left ahead of the 2020-21 season in Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic and Nelson Semedo, have featured more in that time, with Sergio Busquets (209) leading the way.

The France international returned from a five-month lay-off in last week's win against Dynamo Kiev, only to sustain a hamstring injury in that game that will again keep him out.

Despite Dembele's persistent fitness issues, however, Xavi made clear at his Camp Nou unveiling on Monday that he wants Barca to keep hold of the 24-year-old.

"He can be the best footballer in the world in his position," Xavi said at a news conference. "He has spectacular abilities and a winning mentality. His renewal is a priority right now.

"We have to work with him and demand a lot. That will also depend on him, on his mentality. He will have to train well to prevent injuries."

 

Dembele has scored 30 goals and assisted 20 more for Barca, meaning he has been directly involved in 0.65 goals per 90 minutes.

That is an identical return to highly regarded Liverpool pair Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, among players from Europe's top five leagues since August 2017.

However, it does lag considerably behind the likes of fellow forwards Erling Haaland (1.39), Lionel Messi (1.29), Robert Lewandowski (1.27), Kylian Mbappe (1.24) and Neymar (1.14) – the man he replaced at Camp Nou.

Dembele's existing deal is set to expire at the end of the season and he can therefore discuss ​a free transfer with other clubs from January 1.

Barca have numerous other issues to contend with between now and then, not least in terms of potential targets ahead of Xavi's first transfer window at the helm.

Asked if he is hopeful cash-strapped Barca can bring in new recruits, Xavi said: "We are going to assess it with the club and we are going to decide. 

"It is soon, but we are going to work to strengthen the team. It is always an opportunity. For me, it is clear that we must ensure all the players we have are clear about what they each have to do in every moment of a game."

Xavi's first game in charge of Barcelona, where he spent 17 seasons during his playing career, is against city rivals Espanyol on November 20.

Xavi intends to lean on advice from previous Barcelona coaching greats to help restore the club to its former glories, vowing: "We are Barca, we have to win". 

The 41-year-old was appointed as Ronald Koeman's successor on Saturday, returning to the club where he spent 17 seasons during his playing career.

Former Spain international Xavi has spent the past two and a half years in charge of Qatari club Al Sadd and is now tasked with transforming the fortunes of Barcelona.

The Catalan giants have won just six of their 16 matches in all competitions this season and are ninth in LaLiga, already 10 points adrift of bitter rivals Real Madrid.

Barca have won just one trophy, the Copa del Rey, in the past two seasons – a far cry from Xavi's time at the club when lifting 25 trophies in an illustrious Camp Nou spell.

Xavi played under eight permanent coaches at Barcelona, a list that includes Louis van Gaal, Frank Rijkaard, Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique.

The former Spain international is now the man in the hotseat – arguably the most high-profile job in football – and has a clear blueprint as to how he can turn things around.

"Many times I think about advice from the likes of Frank, Van Gaal, [Johann] Cruyff, Guardiola, Luis Enrique and my father," he said at a news conference on Monday.

"Guardiola in particular was a reference for me as a player and a manager. I think he's the best manager in the world.

"If people want to compare me with him, that's a positive. Of course I understand the pressure of this job. I understand this is the best club in the world.

"We have to demand everything from our players. There are high expectations but that's a good thing. We have to work hard to get back to winning trophies."

Xavi was speaking after being unveiled in front of around 10,000 spectators at Camp Nou – Guardiola among them – where he formally signed a two and a half year contract.

"I don't want to cry, but thank you very much to all the fans, to all the club, it's just amazing," Xavi said.

"I can say one thing, we are the best club in the world, and we are gonna work to try and win many titles. Barca cannot draw or lose, we have to win every single game.

"This a dream come true. I return with the maximum responsibility of being the coach of the first team. We must work and bring order. 

"The objective is to steady the ship of Barcelona, ​​to enjoy and win. Barca is my home and I really want to face this challenge. 

"It is a delicate moment in economic and sporting terms, but I am prepared, together with my staff."

Xavi will take charge of his first training session on Tuesday in preparation for Barca's next match, a derby showdown with Espanyol on November 20.

"I'll say it again: We have to demand the most of ourselves, knowing that we are Barca," Xavi added. "We cannot play to draw or lose – we have to win.

"We have to work hard, knowing we have a game with Espanyol coming up. We have to be able to compete against any opponent."

Xavi returns to Catalonia six years after departing for Al Sadd, where he saw out his playing career before making the move into coaching.

The World Cup winner turned down the chance to take charge of Barcelona on two previous occasions, which he put down to the timing being wrong.

"The first two times Barcelona came, it didn't feel right, both at a family level and personally. I needed more time," he said. 

"First it was in January and then the summer, with an election in between, and there was a lot of uncertainty, it was not the moment. 

"Then Joan called me. I have always said that he is the best president in the history of Barca. I know that he is a guy who is looking forward, and now was the time."

Xavi has finally landed his dream job as head coach of Barcelona.

The 41-year-old was confirmed in the role early Saturday, and it will be his first coaching job in Europe after spending the past two and a half years in charge of Qatari side Al Sadd.

Xavi had two years to run on his Al Sadd deal, but Barcelona paid his release clause to allow the Camp Nou legend to replace Ronald Koeman.

He has signed a contract through the end of the 2023-24 season, with the new hire coming as a huge boost to the Catalan giants during a turbulent time for the club.

Barcelona said Xavi will be presented in an event Monday at Camp Nou. 

Al Sadd CEO Turk Al-Ali earlier said: "Xavi informed us a few days ago of his desire to go to Barcelona at this particular time, because of the critical stage his hometown club is going through, and we understand this and decided not to stand in his way."

 

Xavi racked up 767 appearances for Barca during his playing career – a tally only surpassed by Lionel Messi (778) – and won a glut of individual and team honours.

He won LaLiga eight times and the Champions League on four occasions before ending his 24-year association with the club in 2015.

After seeing out the final four seasons of his playing career with Al Sadd and adding four more trophies to his collection, Xavi made the transition into coaching in May 2019.

The 2010 World Cup winner has enjoyed success in the dugout, too, having guided his side to the top-flight title last season, on top of winning the Qatar Cup and Qatari Super Cup.

Former Spain international Xavi departs with Al Sadd three points clear at the top of the league following Wednesday's 3-3 draw with second-place Al-Duhail.

That proved to be Xavi's final game at the helm, and he now faces a huge job at Barcelona, who are down in ninth place in LaLiga with 11 games of their season played.

Barca lost to Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano in Koeman's last two games before the Dutchman was sacked.

They have since drawn with Deportivo Alaves in the league and beaten Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League under interim boss Sergi Barjuan, who will lead the team Saturday at Celta Vigo. 

Luis Enrique welcomed the imminent appointment of Xavi as head coach of Barcelona but doubts he can offer any worthy advice to the Camp Nou legend.

The long-awaited return of Xavi now appears a formality after Al Sadd announced Barcelona had agreed to buy the 41-year-old out of his contract.

Spanish newspaper Sport has reported Barcelona and Xavi are planning to split the cost of buying the coach out of that deal with the Qatar Stars League team.

Barcelona have encountered major financial problems but are optimistic Xavi will be the man who leads a turnaround of their fortunes on the pitch.

Heading into this weekend, they sit ninth in LaLiga after 11 games, having won just four times in the competition. A trip to face Celta Vigo in their test on Saturday, with Xavi reportedly set to be presented on Monday.

Spain boss Luis Enrique played for Barcelona from 1996 to 2004, overlapping with the early years of Xavi's playing career, and later coached the team from 2014 to 2017, winning a stack of trophies including two LaLiga titles and a Champions League.

"It was almost an announced rumour that Xavi would have the chance to come back to his home. Hopefully he will have a great time there, hopefully he will be able to win many things with Barcelona," Luis Enrique said at a news conference on Friday, after announcing Spain's squad for their upcoming international fixtures.

"It's true that I have been in the dressing room at lot at Barcelona, but also at ​​Sporting [Gijon] and Real Madrid. And as a coach I've also been in many dressing rooms.

"But in this one, specifically, Xavi has been there much more than me. I think he will almost be able to give me tips."

Xavi played 767 games for Barcelona, which is a tally only beaten by Lionel Messi (778), whose close-season exit to Paris Saint-Germain has left Barcelona reeling.

In all, Xavi won LaLiga eight times and the Champions League on four occasions before ending his long association with the club in 2015, having played in a treble-winning campaign under Luis Enrique.

Now Xavi is heading back to the Catalan giants, reportedly on an early morning flight from Qatar on Saturday, and is already being portrayed as a saviour.

There could be bumps along the way, given Barcelona's current crop of players does not match up favourably against the teams that Xavi played in while previously with the Blaugrana.

Al Sadd even referred to the "critical stage" at Barcelona as they announced Xavi's exit.

Luis Enrique said: "I hope it goes very well for him and that he can achieve many things with a club as big as Barca."

Xavi is set to be confirmed as Barcelona's new head coach after leaving his role with Al Sadd. 

The 41-year-old will take over at Camp Nou having spent the past two and a half years in charge of Al Sadd.

Xavi still had two more years to run on his deal, but Barcelona have paid his release clause and reached an agreement with the Qatari side for the club legend to replace Ronald Koeman.

A statement from Al Sadd CEO Turk Al-Ali read: "The Al Sadd administration has agreed on Xavi's move to Barcelona after the payment of the release clause stipulated in the contract.

"We've agreed on cooperation with Barcelona in the future. Xavi is an important part of Al-Sadd's history and we wish him success.

"Xavi informed us a few days ago of his desire to go to Barcelona at this particular time, because of the critical stage his hometown club is going through, and we understand this and decided not to stand in his way."

 

Xavi racked up 767 appearances for Barca during his playing career – a tally only surpassed by Lionel Messi (778) – and won a glut of individual and team honours.

He won LaLiga eight times and the Champions League on four occasions before ending his 24-year association with the Catalan giants in 2015.

After seeing out the final four seasons of his playing career with Al Sadd and adding four more trophies to his collection, Xavi made the transition into coaching in May 2019.

The World Cup winner has enjoyed success in the dugout, too, having guided his side to the top-flight title last season, on top of winning the Qatar Cup and Qatari Super Cup.

Former Spain international Xavi departs with Al Sadd three points clear at the top of the league following Wednesday's 3-3 draw with second-place Al-Duhail.

That proved to be Xavi's final game at the helm, and he now faces a huge job at Barcelona, who are down in ninth place in LaLiga with 11 games of their season played.

Barca lost to Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano in Koeman's last two games and have since drawn with Deportivo Alaves in the league and beaten Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League under interim boss Sergi Barjuan.

Xavi is set to be confirmed as Barcelona's new head coach after leaving his role with Al Sadd. 

The 41-year-old will take over at Camp Nou having spent the past two and a half years in charge of Al Sadd.

Xavi still had two more years to run on his deal, but Barcelona have paid his release clause and reached an agreement with the Qatari side for the club legend to replace Ronald Koeman.

A statement from Al Sadd CEO Turk Al-Ali read: "The Al Sadd administration has agreed on Xavi's move to Barcelona after the payment of the release clause stipulated in the contract.

"We've agreed on cooperation with Barcelona in the future. Xavi is an important part of Al-Sadd's history and we wish him success.

"Xavi informed us a few days ago of his desire to go to Barcelona at this particular time, because of the critical stage his hometown club is going through, and we understand this and decided not to stand in his way."

 

Xavi racked up 767 appearances for Barca during his playing career – a tally only surpassed by Lionel Messi (778) – and won a glut of individual and team honours.

He won LaLiga eight times and the Champions League on four occasions before ending his 24-year association with the Catalan giants in 2015.

After seeing out the final four seasons of his playing career with Al Sadd and adding four more trophies to his collection, Xavi made the transition into coaching in May 2019.

The World Cup winner has enjoyed success in the dugout, too, having guided his side to the top-flight title last season, on top of winning the Qatar Cup and Qatari Super Cup.

Former Spain international Xavi departs with Al Sadd three points clear at the top of the league following Wednesday's 3-3 draw with second-place Al-Duhail.

That proved to be Xavi's final game at the helm, and he now faces a huge job at Barcelona, who are down in ninth place in LaLiga with 11 games of their season played.

Barca lost to Real Madrid and Rayo Vallecano in Koeman's last two games and have since drawn with Deportivo Alaves in the league and beaten Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League under interim boss Sergi Barjuan.

Xavi looked set to take a significant step towards becoming Barcelona's new coach on Thursday.

The former Barcelona captain appears to be the only candidate the club have in mind to replace the sacked Ronald Koeman.

This has led a delegation from Barcelona to travel to Qatar in an effort to persuade Al Sadd, where Xavi is head coach, to release the former Spain midfielder from his contract.

Talks have taken place between senior officials from both sides and are said to have been convivial, and now it will reportedly fall to Xavi to take the next step.

Al Sadd chief executive Turki Al-Ali said earlier this week that the Stars League side remained "committed to keeping our coach Xavi with us".

However, Xavi told Mundo Deportivo he was "very eager and excited" about the prospect of a Barcelona return, insisting: "I really want to go home."

What could prove telling are discussions between Xavi and club president Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Thani, with the 41-year-old expected to tell the sheikh his heart is set on moving to Camp Nou. According to widespread reports in Spain, those talks will take place on Thursday.

The cash-strapped Blaugrana are reluctant to pay a €5million release clause for Xavi, Barcelona-based newspaper Sport reported.

It has been suggested in Spain that Al Sadd players are expecting Xavi to move on, with a 3-3 draw with Al Duhail on Wednesday followed by several messages on social media.

Rodrigo Tabata re-posted a video from supporters bearing the caption "Thanks Xavi", and team-mate Baghdad Bounedjah did likewise with a post from Al Sadd's official account that showed him embracing the coach.

Yet those appear tenuous and could also be interpreted as messages of support, to show how the players value Xavi, with Al Sadd's stance showing little sign of shifting.

 

World Cup winner Xavi has spent the past two and a half years in charge of Al Sadd and still has two more years to run on his deal.

As a player, he racked up 767 appearances for Barca during his playing career – a tally only surpassed by Lionel Messi (778) – and won a glut of individual and team honours.

He won LaLiga eight times and the Champions League on four occasions before ending his 24-year association with the Catalan giants in 2015.

After seeing out the final four seasons of his playing career with Al Sadd and adding four more trophies to his collection, Xavi made the transition into coaching in May 2019.

Quoted in Mundo Deportivo on Wednesday, Xavi said: "I really want to go home. The two clubs are in talks and a resolution must be reached. I am very excited, but it's a matter of respect – I have a contract."

Al Sadd have addressed rumours linking manager Xavi with the vacant head coach role at Barcelona by reiterating the former Spain international remains tied to a two-year contract.

Ronald Koeman was sacked by Barcelona after the club's dismal start to the 2021-22 campaign continued with a shock defeat to Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday.

That left them ninth in LaLiga and six points off the top – that gap has since been stretched to nine.

Sergi Barjuan was placed in temporary charge until a permanent successor to Koeman is found, and Blaugrana great Xavi is the hot favourite.

The 41-year-old has long been seen as a potential future head coach at Barca, and he is even reported to have turned down two approaches in the past: before Quique Setien was hired to replace Ernesto Valverde, and earlier this year when Joan Laporta reclaimed the presidency.

Laporta addressed the media beside Sergi on Friday and did little to cool speculation as he spoke of his surety that Xavi will one day coach Barcelona – though the president did at least follow that with the caveat of not knowing when that would be.

But while it seems inevitable that Barca will approach Xavi once again in the coming days, Al Sadd have at least attempted to calm the situation from their own perspective.

A statement posted to Twitter read: "In response to what's circulating recently, the Al Sadd management reaffirms that Xavi has a two-year contract with the club and is fully focused on the team's upcoming matches, to maintain our lead at the top of the league and to defend the title."

Xavi came through the ranks at Barca and went on to make 767 appearances for the club during one of their most illustrious periods.

He left for Al Sadd in 2014 and finished his playing career there, before taking over as coach and leading them to seven domestic trophies.

Barca face Deportivo Alaves at Camp Nou on Saturday and are away to Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League three days later.

Xavi insists he is focused on his work with Al Sadd amid reports he is set to take over as the new head coach of Barcelona. 

Barca sacked Ronald Koeman on Wednesday following a 1-0 loss at Rayo Vallecano that left them six points off top spot in LaLiga. 

It was the Catalan giants' first defeat to Rayo since December 2002 and ended a run of 13 straight LaLiga victories against them. 

Sergi Barjuan has been placed in temporary charge, with Xavi expected to be allowed to leave Al Sadd next week following their clash with Qatar Stars League title rivals Al Duhail. 

Asked about the possibility of an impending return to Camp Nou on Thursday, Xavi said: "I am focused on my work with Al Sadd and I won't talk about anything else."

Xavi came through the ranks at Barca and went on to provide 184 assists and score 85 times in 767 appearances for the club during one of their most illustrious periods. 

He left for Al Sadd in 2014 and finished his playing career there, before taking over as coach and leading them to seven domestic trophies.

Barca face Deportivo Alaves at Camp Nou on Saturday and are away to Dynamo Kiev in the Champions League three days later.

Xavi has once again expressed his desire to coach Barcelona as the former midfielder revealed returning to his former club is his "goal and dream".

Barca great Xavi has managed Qatari side Al-Sadd since retiring in 2019 – leading them to five domestic cups and a league title – but has regularly admitted that he wants the top job with the Catalan giants.

The 41-year-old was linked to the role in August 2020 before Ronald Koeman's appointment and the Dutchman has seen his position come under scrutiny following a mixed start to the new term.

Barca currently sit seventh in LaLiga and suffered back-to-back Champions League group stage defeats for the first time since 2000-01, leading Xavi to once again be linked to Koeman's job.

While Koeman's position has seemingly improved ahead of Sunday's crucial Clasico against Real Madrid, a fixture Barca have not won in four LaLiga meetings, Xavi reaffirmed his desire to return to his former club in future.

"My ideal is to coach Barcelona," Xavi told 20 Minutes. "I have never hidden it, it is my goal and my dream.

"I don't know if it will happen or not, if they will need me or not, but at the moment I am happy to be in Al-Sadd and very proud of it.

"Obviously, it is the beginning of my career. I am beginning. It is my third year at Al-Sadd as a coach and I am gaining experience.

"If any offer comes in, it will be evaluated and then we will try to decide, but at the moment I am very happy here."

 

Xavi appeared 715 times for Barca across all competitions - scoring 79 times and assisting 130 goals between 1998 and 2015 - with only Lionel Messi playing more games (766).

And Al-Sadd's head coach - who moved to the Qatari outfit in 2015 and later signed a contract extension as coach until May 2023 - has been pleased with his work, both managerially and his former playing days.

"During my time at Barcelona and with the national team, I always tried to do my bit to help and improve other players, and this is something that I am now enjoying a lot in my new career as a coach," he continued.

"I already did it as a captain, but now as a coach, and I am happy to see the evolution of the local players and to know that I am doing my bit."

Xavi did nothing to quash rumours that he could replace Ronald Koeman at embattled LaLiga giants Barcelona, saying he is "open to anything". 

Xavi was among the favourites for the Barca job before Koeman was hired as head coach in August 2020 and has been the name on everyone's lips as the Catalans have struggled this season. 

Barca great Xavi has presided over Qatari side Al-Sadd since his retirement in 2019, leading them to a league title and five domestic cups, but a return to the Camp Nou would be difficult to resist. 

Ahead of Sunday's Nations League final between Spain and France, Xavi left the door open for a return. 

"Any offer will be evaluated and then a decision will be made," Xavi told TVE. "I don't know where my future will take me, but I'm open to anything."

The 41-year-old made 505 appearances for Barca as a player from 1998 through 2015.

Xavi, who moved to Al-Sadd in 2015 before signing a contract extension as coach through 2023 in May, held the record for most Barca appearances before it was broken by Lionel Messi last season.

Others mentioned as potential replacements for Koeman include Belgium boss Roberto Martinez, River Plate head coach Marcelo Gallardo, former Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo and Ajax's Erik ten Hag. 

Koeman remains in the job, and Barca president Joan Laporta affirmed his support for the embattled former Blaugrana star on Friday.

"We have every confidence in him, he's our coach, and he deserves some leeway as he believes in the team and hasn't been able to call on the entire squad yet," Laporta told RAC1. 

Barcelona are ninth in LaLiga, five points adrift of leaders Real Madrid with a game in hand. 

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