25 April 2024

My players persuaded me to change my mind – Xavi explains Barcelona U-turn

25 April 2024

Xavi has revealed he decided to stay at Barcelona after his players persuaded him not to leave.

The 44-year-old, who made more than 500 appearances for Barca during a trophy-laden playing career, announced in January that he would step down, believing his team needed a “change of dynamic”.

However, after president Joan Laporta confirmed on Thursday that the head coach would be staying, the former midfielder admitted his players had played a key role.

Xavi told a press conference: “My original decision was the right one at the time because we needed a change of course. But the situation is different now. I feel strong enough to continue building this project.

“We may not have achieved the trophy-winning targets that we set for this season, but there is hope for next season and I think we are very close to achieving big things.

“The players believe in me and they have expressed to me their complicity and support, they persuaded me to change my mind.

“The fans also encouraged me and that also led me to reappraise my thoughts. I thank them for all their support and love.”

Xavi, who replaced Ronald Koeman at the Nou Camp in November 2021 with Barca lying in ninth place in the LaLiga table, 11 points off the top and 10 behind arch-rivals Real Madrid, is contracted to the club until the summer of 2025.

He announced his decision to cut short his stay after a 5-3 home defeat by Villarreal on January 27, but then presided over an unbeaten run of 13 games in all competitions until a 4-1 home defeat by Paris St Germain ended their Champions League hopes at the quarter-final stage.

Barca currently sit second in the table, 11 points adrift of Madrid with six games to play, but with a bond which looked frayed now restored.

Asked about his reasons for staying, Xavi said: “There are several reasons, but the main one is to ensure the stability of the club and to continue building a winning team.”

A delighted Laporta revealed the decision to accept the manager’s volte-face had been approved unanimously by the club’s board.

He said: “You know that in mid-season, Xavi issued a statement that he had decided to leave at the end of the season.

“However, yesterday I got the good news in which he conveyed his enthusiasm and confidence for the project and the team and project.

“Our coach is ambitious to create a project that has already won things and that must continue to win. But now it will be even more competitive because changes will be made for the better.”

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