BARCELONA

Koeman's future at Barcelona becomes clearer with Xavi set to sign new two-year deal with Al Sadd

Xavi will sign a two-year contract, taking him to 30 June 2023, but with a 'Barça clause', which will leave him free to leave at any time.

Xavi Hernandez
AFP

Xavi Hernández and his coaching team will sign a contract extension which will keep them at Al Sadd until 30 June 2023. The contract has already been drawn up and is just waiting to be signed - it is expected that will happen in the next few days. The contract will tie Xavi to the Qatari club for the next two seasons but will include a 'Barça clause' which would  automatically free him from the post, at no cost, if Barcelona offer him the chance to return.

Xavi and Al Sadd have been negotiating a new deal for some time but it was the coach who asked for time to think things through. Initially, Xavi was only prepared to sign a one-year extension, but that didn't fit in with the club's plans - seeing as Qatar will be hosting the World Cup in 2022, they want to have Xavi as an ambassador of Qatari football.

Xavi's coaching team will also be staying on for another two years but they will not have a release clause in their new contracts.

Al Sadd view Xavi as the ideal person to manage the team during the next couple of years. In his second season in charge, the Spanish coach has guided his team to a clean sweep of domestic silverware, including the QSL, which his side won with four games to go, remaining unbeaten during the whole competition. They haven't been so successful in the Asian Champions League, being eliminated on goal difference after a problematic meeting with Saudi Arabian outfit Al Nassr in the final group game.

Xavi's Al Sadd have another chance to add to their honours' list as they go into the Emir of Qatar Cup semi-final against Al Arabi on 9 May. If they win, it will be their fourth final of the season (they have won the three previous ones).

So Xavi's proposed return to Barcelona will have to wait for the time being. Xavi's return was mentioned by all of the candidates during the electoral campaign - especially by Víctor Font and Joan Laporta. In the last few weeks, his name has cropped up again as a potential replacement for Ronald Koeman. But with his new contract at Al Sadd, it is impossible that Xavi will return next season. That will come as a relief for Koeman, who can prepare for the final four games of the season without pressure, knowing that in all likelihood he will remain at the club next season.