Laporta, Xavi talk to the press after key managerial decision


TOPSHOT - FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta (L) and Barcelona's Spanish coach Xavi react during a press conference at the Joan Gamper training ground in Sant Joan Despi, near Barcelona, on April 25, 2024. Xavi will remain as coach of Barcelona, the Spanish giants told AFP on April 24, despite having announced in January that he planned to quit at the end of the season due to the "cruel and unpleasant" nature of the job.
Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images

Since the announcement of Xavi Hernandez to leave FC Barcelona at the end of the season, there has naturally been a lot of uncertainty on who is going to lead the sporting project at the Catalan club.

Several names have been assessed by the Blaugranes in this period, but now, the club has decided to continue with Xavi for another season, and allow him to fulfill his contract that goes till 2025.

This decision was made only last night, and the three most powerful individuals at the club, the President Joan Laporta, the Sporting Director Deco, and the head coach Xavi Hernandez appeared in front of the press to address their questions about the coaching situation and publicly announce and explain their decision to continue working together.

The main highlights from this presser are as follows:

Laporta was the first to speak, and he began with his announcement that Xavi will be the coach at Barcelona for another season:

“Good morning, everyone. I am pleased to announce that Xavi will continue as the coach of the first team at Barça. He made some statements about considering leaving, but yesterday he conveyed to me his enthusiasm for the project and the team. The ambition he has to keep winning, now with increased competitiveness.”

“Some changes will be made to improve. Since we met yesterday, it was clear to us that it was good news. Stability is a top priority in successful projects, especially this one. Xavi is an undisputed Barcelona supporter. We understand it the same way. When we analyze things, our coach always thinks about what’s best for Barça.”

“It’s great news that Xavi will continue. The team we have, which is consolidating, with very young people, needs this stability. Xavi is a reference for the young players, and we can see that. Today I’m especially happy. In the board of directors, unanimously, they have supported this decision.”

The President then went on to congratulate Xavi and highlighted the club’s achievements under him in the last two years:

“The board members have always been well guided by Rafa Yuste, who has always had in mind that we should continue with Xavi. He has the full confidence of the board, the sports commission, and the Barcelona fans.”

“Today is good news because we maintain the stability of a project that we believe will be even more successful. Last year we won the Supercopa and the Liga, which came at a time of great difficulty. This year we didn’t achieve the objectives we wanted; they faded away last week.”

“We are convinced that it is the best decision and it brings stability to the club and the institution. Believe in Barça and in this project, it’s worth it. It’s an honor to have Xavi’s human quality and knowledge.”

Laporta also took this opportunity to remember Tito Vilanova, who passed ten years ago on this day: “I want to remember Tito Vilanova, who left us 10 years ago today. He is a beloved person in the club, and we always keep him in our memories.”

After Laporta, Xavi himself took the microphone and explained why he went back on his word to continue working at Barcelona:

“You know I’m a big Barcelona fan, and I always try to do what’s best for the club. The most important thing is to think about the entity. When we met with the president, I offered him my position, but I found great confidence from the president, the sports area, and the entire board.”

“The players’ complicity has been very important; they made me see that this project must continue. We are working well; it’s a winning project. The fans have also made me see that I should continue. I feel strong and capable.”

“The staff does too. I think about what’s best for the club. In January, I thought it was best to leave, but now I see it differently. I am very grateful; I think it’s the best decision.”

After these speeches from the two individuals, the question session began, and it was Xavi who addressed the first question as he highlighted the role of fans in his decision to stay:

“That’s one of the points. The confidence I have shown to the president has been mutual. We have a very good rapport with the sports management and with the fans. That makes you reconsider. I appreciate the support they give me in the street and in the stadium. I think that if we manage to correct details, we will be close to achieving great success.”

Laporta gave an insight into how the internal debate regarding the future of the head coaching position at the club went:

“The sports management and the coach will work to improve, but I won’t say what changes there will be. They are the ones who decide what needs to be done. We assumed the formula at the time for it to continue until the end of the season, but if it won, we were delighted for it to continue.”

“If it didn’t win, there were also arguments, but we talked about it yesterday and it was clear. A flame of excitement was generated in the team. The stability of the project is essential for success. We have to take positive things from the season.”

“We have a young team, both for the present and the future, and a united dressing room. Also, the fans are excited. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen them so excited. I ask Barcelona fans to believe in the project, which will be successful.”

Xavi then explained the factors that led to him taking this latest decision to stay at Barcelona for another season:

“It hasn’t been an easy decision. In January, I conveyed to the president, Deco, and the board that it was best for the club. Now the circumstances have changed. Yesterday we talked about it very directly. I believe the project is not finished and can be successful.”

“I am convinced, with all the enthusiasm in the world. The players believe in it, and I have changed my mind. It is wise to rectify. It’s a mix of reasons that makes me continue, especially the confidence of the president, Deco, and the players. It’s not a matter of money or ego. I saw the trust of everyone.”

Xavi also disclosed that the players already know that he is not going to leave this summer:

“The players already know. We’ve had one of the best training sessions of the season. The president has given his explanations, and I have too, which are the same as I’m giving here. I’ve felt the confidence of everyone, and I feel strong. That’s the story.”

The next question was about Xavi’s contract. The coach first addressed this question and disclosed that he would not have taken any payment from the club if he had left this summer in spite of the one year still remaining:

“If they’ve said this, it’s to cause harm. If I didn’t continue, I wouldn’t receive a single euro. The president knows it. The money from my contract was for the next coach.”

Then Laporta took the microphone and commended Xavi’s willingness to make a sacrifice for the club:

“This honors him and is further proof of his Barcelonismo. He always said he was renouncing his year of contract. It’s an institutional and sporting matter. Stability has been key. When it comes to money, Xavi has behaved with great dignity. He has never acted greedily.”

The Barcelona coach then clarified that he has a very good relationship with both Laporta and Deco, and he has not set any conditions to stay:

“I am a man of consensus and the club. I have a very good rapport with Deco and the president. We will always look out for the good of the club. I haven’t set any conditions.”

Xavi also clarified that it was not because of the environment at the club that he decided to leave, and he was hopeful that the situation at the club will improve further in the future:

“I make the decision for the good of the club. I believe that it will improve, but now the circumstances have changed. I know the club, the environment wasn’t the main reason. I am with the utmost enthusiasm for the project to continue winning.”

The President then provided an update on the expected reinforcement for this coming summer:

“We are working to try to achieve the 1:1 rule to be able to incorporate players. The other day LaLiga congratulated us on the efforts we are making to reduce the wage bill. In this final stretch of the season, we are pushing for operations to be carried out to achieve the 1:1 ratio. They will decide what can be reinforced.”

Laporta mentioned the desire for stability as one of the reasons why he wanted Xavi to continue:

“We have trust in him, and the sports management was also in favor. I did reflect on the fact that whenever I have bet on stability, it has turned out well. This had its influence. There was a desire for the project to continue, and we understood each other immediately.”

He went on to explain that the recent result against Real Madrid was not seen by the club as an indictment against Xavi, and shared how matters developed in the last few days:

“In the board meeting, nothing was voted on. After the Bernabéu, the immediate reaction was total indignation due to the refereeing treatment. We have already requested the footage from the Federation because we believe Lamine’s goal was valid. We will pursue this matter to the fullest extent; such abuses cannot be allowed.”

“All of this took two days of preparation, and then I informed the board about Xavi’s situation. We were awaiting a meeting with Xavi, which was hastened because he was already with Deco. When it became clear that Xavi wanted to continue and there were compelling reasons to proceed with the project, the chief of staff called all the directors, and they congratulated Xavi.”

“Everyone had the opportunity to express their views. I have always wanted Xavi to continue. We didn’t want to discuss it too much because we were immersed in constant sporting battles. I needed to talk to Xavi to see how he was feeling. The perception now is clear. He gave me reasons to continue, and I discussed it with the board.”

Xavi was then asked if he regretted his earlier decision to leave the club after this season, but the Barcelona head coach was clear that it was a necessary action at that point in time:

“The decision was right because the club needed a change. He communicated this to the president. Now it is wrong because I think the opposite. The young people and the squad have given me their support, in addition to the trust of the president and Deco. It made me reconsider, and I have the energy to move forward. To rectify is wise.”

Laporta then shared how good a relationship he has with Xavi, and disclosed there were no negotiations undertaken with any other coach after his announcement to leave the club:

“With Xavi, I have a lot of affinity, and I needed to see Xavi excited, with the confidence he exudes, with the complicity, and feel absolutely sure that he is up for it. When we greeted each other, we already knew he had to continue. I understand the project with Xavi as the coach.”

“I told him we wouldn’t do anything until the end of the season, that we wouldn’t look for a coach, waiting to see how things ended and how he felt. Xavi has gained a lot of experience. Everything evolves.”

“From this year, we need to draw positive conclusions. We have gone through complex situations; winning with Barça is more difficult. We haven’t entered negotiations with any coach. We haven’t spoken with any because there was hope that Xavi would reconsider.”

The head coach also made it clear that there will be no changes in his staff:

“The staff will continue with the team. I believe I have a prepared and professional staff. All of them are die-hard culés. We are all very grateful for having waited and listened to us. There are no changes in the staff at any time.”

“I am proud and grateful. It’s a wonderful staff. It’s evident that we need to improve things, but we have learned a lot.”

The President then provided an update on Barcelona’s pursuit of FFP relief from La Liga:

“At the moment, there is no approval from LaLiga. However, we are on the right track. There are three basic pillars: the economic recovery of the club, the Espai Barça project, which is taking shape and we could return home by December, and the first football team.”

“There are several operations involving Barça Vision or sports equipment. La Liga’s calculations suggest that this season or the next one, we will be compliant with the ‘fair play’ regulations. Today, we are still in an economic recovery process that does not allow us to carry out certain operations.”

Laporta admitted that not winning any piece of silverware will have implications, but still identified some things that had gone well this season:

“Losing has consequences, and there will be changes. That’s the consequence, there could be several degrees. Despite not achieving the objectives, there are positive aspects. Young players have emerged in the first team.”

“The project remains intact in terms of confidence and enthusiasm. There will be adjustments. I maintain coherence. I’m not going to give in to those who want to dismantle everything. Especially not in a project that excites Barça fans. We act with a sense of responsibility.”

Meanwhile, Xavi believed the club will continue to work in a highly cruel and cutthroat environment:

“My opinion of the environment is that it will continue to be cruel, but I feel strong and motivated. The project is not finished, and we will give our all. But it will continue to be cruel and unpleasant.”

At the same time, he also mentioned how things were improving, and shared the hope that the team will do well in the coming season:

“At a tactical level, we were better than PSG, both in the first leg and in the second leg. After Ronald’s expulsion, we lacked better competitiveness. It’s part of the process. Winning, winning, and winning is very difficult. The staff and the players have learned a lot. Next year, we will compete better.”

After having gone back on his earlier decision to leave the club at the end of the season, Xavi was not adamant that he will continue at the club no matter what:

“I will continue no matter what happens. My commitment remains intact. It won’t happen again. The trust they have given me is spectacular, and now it’s time to work.”

Laporta was not yet ready to publicly state the situation regarding the shirt sponsors for the next season:

“Allow me not to go into details; we are in a renegotiation phase. It’s not finished yet. I can’t tell you anything. We are working to have the best contract in the market.”

The President once again praised Xavi, and showed full confidence in his abilities:

“We must continue to believe in the project out of Barcelona’s spirit. I remain convinced that we have an extraordinary person with a strong Barça sentiment who instills enthusiasm and confidence. Barcelona fans can be proud of the coach we have.”

For his part, Xavi was also happy with the improvements that the team has made in the last few years, especially in the Champions League:

“I have the feeling that the team has improved a lot. Two years ago, we played in Munich and couldn’t keep up, but now I think we are capable of competing with the big teams in Europe. It slipped away from us due to details. We want to try again. It slipped away because of us. The team has improved. I’m eager to keep competing.”

Xavi shared that he has a very good relationship with the sporting officials:

“I haven’t mentioned all the names. Enric Masip is also part of the sports commission, as well as Joan Soler. Trust in the sports area. Yesterday, we spoke very naturally. If we are a family within, I think things will go better.”

Source: Mundo Deportivo

Ahmad Sarmad Ansari
Ahmad Sarmad Ansari
Ahmad Sarmad Ansari has been covering Spanish football as a writer for Barca News Network for the last one and a half year and as an amateur football fanatic for more than 10 years. He mainly covers on and off-field happenings taking place at Barcelona including transfer news, administrative changes, match reports, and any other eventful news coming out of the club.

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