Xavi accepts offer to return to Barcelona to replace Ronald Koeman

Deal to be confirmed once agreement is reached to terminate contract with Al Sadd

Xavi has accepted an offer from Barcelona to replace Romald Koeman as head coach. Photograph: Photograph: Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

Xavi has accepted an offer from Barcelona to replace Romald Koeman as head coach. Photograph: Photograph: Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

 

Xavi Hernandez has accepted an offer from Barcelona to become their head coach after the sacking of Ronald Koeman. The deal is due to be confirmed once agreement is reached to terminate his contract as manager of the Qatari club Al Sadd.

The former Barcelona midfielder agreed to return to the Camp Nou after talks with the president, Joan Laporta. Contact opened some weeks ago, with it long having been a question of when Koeman would be dismissed.

It is not certain his appointment will be made before Saturday’s game at home to Alaves, meaning Sergi Barjuan, the head coach of Barcelona B who has been placed in interim charge, could be in the dugout.

Xavi came through Barcelona’s academy and made 767 appearances for the club before finishing his career at Al Sadd. He stepped up to become manager there in May 2019 and would be a popular, unifying appointment at Barcelona even though he lacks top-level coaching experience.

Now 41, he won La Liga eight times and the Champions League four times with the Catalan club as an integral player in the greatest period in their history. He joined the club in 1992, made his debut under Louis van Gaal six years later and departed in 2015 having secured 27 trophies, made 184 assists and scored 85 goals.

Koeman’s sacking came shortly after a 1-0 defeat at Rayo Vallecano left Barcelona ninth, six points behind the leaders, Real Madrid. The Dutchman’s car had been attacked by fans last weekend after a home defeat by Madrid. – Guardian

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