Barcelona offer Xavi two-and-a-half-year contract
Barcelona's sporting director, Eric Abidal, and CEO, Óscar Grau, held a two-hour meeting with Xavi, in which they offered him a deal to replace under-fire coach Ernesto Valverde.
With another disappointing result - despite a generally very positive performance against Atlético Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup semi-final - pressure appears to be mounting ever more on Ernesto Valverde's position as Barcelona manager. And reports on Friday stated that Eric Abidal, the club's sporting director, and Oscar Grau, the CEO, were to meet with former star Xavi Hernández in Doha before flying back to Spain.
Barça directors speak to Xavi
Intially reported by Catalan radio station RAC1, and since confirmed by AS, the meeting went ahead in Doha on Friday. The details of what went on behind the closed doors are still unclear but it lasted around two hours. It was very much portrayed as an informal meeting, especially given the friendship between Abidal and Xavi, but the understanding remains that it was to sound out the ex-blaugrana star on potentially taking over from Valverde next season. The rest of the Barça squad and management team returned directly from Saudi Arabia after their exit from the new-look tournament.
The former Spanish midfielder is the current Al Sadd coach and Josep Maria Bartomeu's trusted deputies were wanted to speak to him to get an understanding of his thoughts and, perhaps, his availability to make a professional change. Barça may be sitting top of LaLiga as we enter the second half of the season, but the situation is far from convincing under Valverde. And AS understands that the club has offered Xavi a two-and-a-half-year contract to replace the under-fire Valverde.
At 39, the Barça legend said his goodbyes to the club after lifting the treble in the 2014/15 season. A World Cup winner with Spain and a key member of one of the greatest sides ever to play, Xavi has won eight LaLiga titles, three Copas del Rey, six Spanish Super Cups, four Champions Leagues, two European Super Cups and two Club World Cups. After finishing his brief playing career at Al Sadd, he began his managerial work with the club, with the Barça bench clearly in his future sights.
Other names that have been strongly linked with the job have been Ronald Koeman, Roberto Martínez and Thierry Henry. Barcelona's stance to date has been that Valverde will see out this season.