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Xavi is taking huge risk if he accepts Barcelona job


It’s not too much of a stretch to suggest that had Memphis Depay scored his penalty against Rayo Vallecano, particularly as Real Madrid drew with Osasuna right after, Ronald Koeman would still be Barcelona head coach. But Depay missed it and the defeat to Rayo triggered Koeman’s sacking, which I imagine will have been a relief for him. Now he can play golf five days a week, as he said would, and his wife won’t have to put up with unpleasantness like the other day at the Camp Nou exit. Koeman’s time in the Barça dugout has been a sad, tormented story, a tortuous path through constantly stormy weather: the president’s resignation, the management committee, a new president who didn’t rate him, Lionel Messi’s departure and a continuous barrage of injuries. It wasn’t fun to watch.

Laporta's first choice would have been Pirlo, not Xavi...

Joan Laporta never wanted Koeman and, from the moment he arrived, made no attempt to hide that. And for a group of players that put paid to the tenures of Ernesto Valverde and Quique Setién, a coach publicly disdained by the president was the last thing they needed. By the way, Laporta didn’t want Xavi Hernández, either; he’s not that enamoured of him and he was the basis of rival candidate Víctor Font’s bid for the presidency. Laporta wanted Andrea Pirlo, but having been urged against such an extravagance by everyone around him, he’s now at Xavi’s feet. The coach wants to do right by Al Sadd with his departure, so it seems certain that interim boss Sergi Barjuan will have to take charge of Saturday’s home clash against Alavés and a dangerous midweek game in Kyiv against Dynamo.

Everyone close to Barcelona knows that this team doesn’t train much. They have busy lives away from football, and the extreme example of this is Gerard Piqué, that multifaceted fellow who is just as likely to come across as a rebellious teenager as he is an institutional figure, a player amassing off-field success and on-field bungling. If Xavi returns to the club to take the reins now, it will be an exercise in high-risk Blaugrana patriotism. A few years back, legendary Barça boss Pep Guardiola left (“because we’ll end up hurting each other”) having detected the first signs of the malaise that was already beginning to eat away at the club. Messi papered over the cracks with his goals, but he left and it all came tumbling down.