BARCELONA (Reuters) – Barcelona great Xavi Hernandez has spoken to the club’s sporting director Eric Abidal and chief executive Oscar Grau about coaching the team but has not made a decision, a club source told Reuters on Sunday.
The source said Xavi, coach of Qatari club Al Sadd, is focused on Friday’s Cup final against Al Duhail and has decided against accepting or declining Barca’s offer.
Ernesto Valverde, who has come under pressure since Barcelona’s 3-2 defeat by Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup last week, will take charge of their next training session on Monday, the source added.
Valverde has led Barca to back-to-back league titles and his side top the standings on 40 points after 19 games, level with second-placed Real Madrid.
The coach’s position has long been fragile, however, due to presiding over shock Champions League exits to AS Roma in 2018 and Liverpool in 2019 after taking a three-goal lead in each tie.
Xavi, who had a glittering 17-year career with Barca and is their leading appearance maker, has only been in management since July when he took over Al Sadd, who he joined as a player in 2015 after leaving the Catalans.
The 39-year-old’s record in charge of the club reads 15 wins, 10 defeats and two draws in all competitions and his side are third in the 12-team top flight.
Xavi confirmed on Saturday that he had spoken to his former Barca team mate Abidal and admitted his desire to coach the Catalans while also committing to Al Sadd and saying he respected Valverde. [L8N29G0RB]
“I cannot hide it’s my dream to coach Barcelona, I’ve said it many times in many interviews, everyone knows I support Barcelona from the bottom of my heart,” he said.
The former midfielder, known for his passion for a style of football based on possession famed by ex-Barca coaches Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola, made a record 869 appearances and scored 97 goals for his boyhood club.
He lifted 25 trophies with Barca including four Champions League crowns and eight La Liga titles, also winning the 2010 World Cup with Spain plus two European Championships.
(Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Ed Osmond)
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