Barcelona legend Xavi has confirmed he rejected the chance to return as their manager as it was “not the right time” for him.
Xavi, 39, is currently coaching Qatari side Al Sadd and Barcelona’s sporting director Eric Abidal and chief executive Oscar Garu spoke with him last week about replacing former manager Ernesto Valverde.
Experienced coach Quique Setien replaced Valverde and Xavi has told Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo that this opportunity came too early in his coaching career as the midfielder, who played 767 times for Barca and won 25 trophies in his glittering 17-year career with the Catalan club, has only been a coach for six months in Qatar.
“Yes, it’s true that I have had a proposal from Barcelona, they were here to talk with me, but I didn’t accept because I didn’t feel that this was a good time for me,” said Xavi. “I’m very grateful to Barca, Abidal and Grau for this proposal. Of course, it’s my dream to coach Barca, but it’s not the right time. I have to be honest with you and everybody.”
Setien certainly gets Xavi’s blessing as Barca’s new coach, as the former Las Palmas and Real Betis manager is known for his attractive, attacking play and follows the coaching principles of Johan Cruyff.
“Of course Quique Setien (the new coach) is ready to coach Barcelona. I love him as a coach. My heart is for Barcelona and now it is for Quique Setien. I wish him all the best, this is the truth, this is what happened,” Xavi added.
World Cup winner Xavi will no doubt manage Barcelona one day (his current contract with Al Saad runs for another 18 months) and if the likes of Steven Gerrard turns up at Liverpool in the coming years, and Frank Lampard and Zinedine Zidane continue at Chelsea and Real Madrid respectively, it will be like 2005 all over again…
There’s no doubting the incredible experience all of these former legendary players have but some would suggest that being hired by the clubs where they made their names as players is an easy out for the hierarchy who know that the fans will get behind the manager and it will be a less risky appointment.