Barcelona great Xavi has said he’s excited about the prospect of managing his former club after rejecting the opportunity in January, going so far as to name Jadon Sancho and Serge Gnabry as the types of player he would target.
Xavi—who made a club-record 767 appearances for Barca between 1998 and 2015—was approached to replace Ernesto Valverde at the helm two months ago, but Quique Setien was given the job when he turned down the chance.
The 40-year-old is currently manager of Qatari outfit Al-Sadd, and he told La Vanguardia (via Sky Sports) he’d be eager to return provided there is no-one “toxic” around the dressing room:
“I am clear that I want to return to Barcelona, it gives me a lot of excitement. Now that I have seen myself coaching I think I can bring things to the players.
“But I made it clear to them that I saw myself in a project that started from zero and in which the decision-making was mine.”
Setien has a little more than two years remaining on his contract, although under-pressure president Josep Maria Bartomeu said in January there’s a loophole that could see his tenure ended early, via the Evening Standard:
Almost five years have passed since Xavi left the Camp Nou, but he has a good idea of which players would fit in well at the club. Namely, the 133-times capped ex-Spain international would target the likes of Borussia Dortmund ace Sancho and Bayern Munich speedster Gnabry:
“I would sign wingers, like Neymar - I don't know if he would fit in due to the social issue, but football-wise I have no doubts it would be a spectacular signing. They just need wingers like Bayern's. They don't need many new players: maybe Jadon Sancho, Serge Gnabry…”
Football is currently on hold as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which has perhaps given Xavi pause to consider his future and the prospects ahead of him.
Setien’s Barcelona led La Liga by two points and had a chance to qualify for the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals—they drew 1-1 at Napoli in their last-16 first leg—before play was halted.