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Where next, Xavi?

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The announcement that Xavi is leaving Barcelona at the end of the season has shocked the footballing world. Barcelona have tumbled from one performance to another and the manager hopes that this announcement galvanises the squad to achieve something before the legend departs. Xavi’s manager career will thus end another chapter, albeit earlier than the man himself would have preferred.

Here’s a look at Xavi’s manager career so far, what he has achieved, and what could hold next for the Spaniard after his dream job has ended in frustration.

Xavi’s manager career

Al-Sadd FC- July 2019 to November 2021 (94 games)

Xavi started off his career at Qatar side Al-Sadd. It is the club where he retired as a player after playing for four years.

Unlike other former players-turned-managers, it was a nice introduction to management for Xavi who could go ahead with his development outside the public eye and scrutiny. He took full advantage of the opportunity, finishing that tenure with a great record of 2.21 points per game.

The cups came in spades as he won two Qatari League Cups, one Qatari Stars Cup, two Qatar cups and won the league once in 2020/21.

However, there was an asterisk on his success in Qatar. That is because Al-Sadd are pretty much like the PSG/Bayern of Qatar. Most of the national team plays for Al-Sadd and the gulf between them and the rest of the league is huge.

Furthermore, Xavi was backed tremendously but to his credit, Al-Sadd have never been as dominant as they were with him in charge. Their title-winning season saw them win 19 out of 22 games, scoring a remarkable 77 times, conceding only 14.

It was the season which convinced Barcelona that they had another managerial wonderkid after Pep.

FC Barcelona- November 2021 to July 2024 (122* games)

It all started so well. Xavi took over a team reeling from their financial troubles which had just finished 13 points behind Real Madrid in the previous season. The team had lost its identity, La Masia was cast aside, and new President Joan Laporta was seeking a miracle worker.

Xavi proved to be exactly that. In a perfect homecoming, Xavi addressed pretty much every problem in a remarkable first season.

Barcelona won the La Liga title back from Los Blancos. La Masia was thriving again, with the likes of Gavi, Balde, and more becoming not just token debuts, but established members of the first team.

Los Cules scored 70 goals in the league and conceded just 20 in an all-time defensive display. Multiple wins over Real Madrid also showed that Barcelona were properly back. A staple of Pep Guardiola’s time in charge was their superiority over Real Madrid, serial title wins, and La Masia at the centre of it all. Everything was back.

Until it wasn’t this season.

Amid injury worries to his pet projects in Pedri and Gavi, an ageing Lewandowski, and a defence that conceded like a sieve, this season fell off the rails rapidly. A team that conceded 20 last season in 38 games has already let in 29 after 21 games.

Copa del Rey campaign was surrendered in spectacular fashion as they lost 4-2 to Athletic. The balance of power tipping towards Madrid was confirmed in a 4-1 loss, and a 3-5 loss to Villarreal sealed his fate. In three games, they conceded 13 goals, 70% of their whole season in the league last season. It couldn’t go on.

Xavi’s manager career- What next?

In the immediate future, he would hope that his team gets fired up to award him a nice parting gift. The league is probably already out of reach as they trail Madrid by 10 points. A fairytale UCL run is the best they can hope for but it’s unlikely. Expect to see more debuts for La Masia products like Pau Cubarsi.

Xavi will want to leave a legacy at the club through which he will be remembered long after he leaves.

Some will say he has arguably already done it, helping the club navigate its toughest period in recent years.

This article is sponsored by Data Security Council of India (DSCI), is a not-for-profit, industry body on data protection in India, setup by NASSCOM®, committed to making the cyberspace safe, secure and trusted by establishing best practices, standards and initiatives in cyber security and privacy.

Vatsal Gupta
A die-hard Red Devil, who has straight up not had a good time since 2012. Lives on Korean dramas and books and can often be heard talking about armchair psychological stuff.

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