Xavi talks Gavi, de Jong, Romeu, Mbappe ahead of Celta vs Barcelona

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Barcelona's Spanish coach Xavi addresses a press conference at the Joan Gamper training ground in Sant Joan Despi, near Barcelona, on January 30, 2024.
Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images

FC Barcelona will be facing Celta de Vigo in their upcoming match in La Liga. The Catalans will be looking to get back to winning ways and take the full three points from this game, especially after they saw themselves fall 10 points behind the league leader Real Madrid with the draw against Granada in their last league match.

However, getting a result in this match will not be easy in any way, especially as Barcelona will be playing at Balaidos, a stadium where the Blaugranes have struggled to get a win on more than one occasion.

Xavi spoke to the press ahead of this match, and while this upcoming meeting was also discussed in this presser, he also had to face some questions about other matters going on at the club, i.e., finding his replacement, contract renewals for some important players, and ending the season on a good note.

The main highlights of this press conference are as follows:

Xavi started the press conference with some comments on the upcoming match against Celta:

“Tomorrow we face a rival that is one of the best tactically prepared. I believe Celta deserves many more points than they have. Benítez is a great coach, and the team has things very clear. Away from home, things are going better for us than at home.”

The Barcelona head coach reiterated that the locker room was calm despite the overall uncertain situation at the club:

“We can’t control it, and that’s normal. I see the dressing room training very well and united. We are united with the president and Deco. From within, the message is one of unity, calmness, and work.”

Mbappe’s decision to leave PSG has been one of the most discussed topics in the football world, but Xavi was not too interested in commenting on this matter:

“I don’t have much to say. What has been confirmed is that Mbappé is leaving, but our situation is different. We have to finish the season well; we have the Champions League tie. I can’t answer that Don’t ask me about Mbappé anymore. I don’t think I should talk about it.”

Xavi provided an update on the injury situation of Sergi Roberto and Oriol Romeu, and hinted at their possible return date:

“Both of them are still feeling discomfort, and they are one step away from returning. If it’s not tomorrow, it will be against Napoli.”

The former midfielder understood that winning the upcoming match is essential for his team to end the season with a positive feeling:

“That’s how it is at every moment of the season. At Barcelona, we are obligated to achieve success. If we want to contend in La Liga, tomorrow’s match must yield three points; we can’t afford any more mistakes. We don’t control our fate, but we have to keep going. I still believe we can finish the season on a positive note.”

Frenkie de Jong’s contract situation and the club’s alleged willingness to part with him has been a topic discussed in the news coming out of the club. However, Xavi did not believe this was a good time to discuss the midfielder’s future:

“Frenkie is a hugely important player and he’s happy at the club. It’s not the time to talk about this. There are four months left in the season and we’re not discussing departures. We’re focused on La Liga and the Champions League.”

The Barcelona trainer was clear that the team is fully focused on the Celta clash, and the upcoming Champions League match against Napoli will not impact his players in this match:

“It won’t have an influence. Tomorrow, three points are very important for La Liga. We’re thinking about Celta. There’s time to think about Napoli.”

Xavi once again reiterated that he has taken the decision to leave the club keeping in view Barcelona’s good:

“It’s a decision I made for the good of the club. I’ve always put the club ahead of myself. I see it as normal, but I don’t care too much about it. There’s still La Liga and the Champions League to compete for.”

The former midfielder will step down from his duties at the end of the season, but was hopeful that he will leave a lasting legacy at his beloved club:

“Since the first day, we’ve been generating excitement, and I’m very happy with the players. It has been difficult to compete. The people support and respect me; the other day they chanted my name.”

“I believe that my time as a coach will be positive beyond my legacy. Whoever comes next should support the team. It has been a pleasure to go to Camp Nou and Montjuïc.”

Marcos Alonso is one of the players who has been sidelined for quite some time with a back issue. Xavi provided an update on his situation:

“He’s improving. He’s a player who would have had many minutes with Balde’s absence. We hope to have him back soon.”

Xavi admitted that Frenkie de Jong has been somewhat inconsistent this season, and the whole team needs to work on this problem:

“Frenkie has had good games and others not so much, like the whole team. We’ve lacked consistency and regularity. We all need to take a step forward.”

Despite their poor form and results, Xavi made clear that his players were still fighting to win every match:

“I’ve seen that they’re upset about losing, they have an extraordinary commitment and dedication. It matters a lot to them when we lose, then we’ll compete as far as we can. The team’s reaction is one of frustration.”

“We want to win, and I have this feeling. If I didn’t, I would make drastic decisions. I believe we still have time, and I want to keep thinking positively.”

Similarly, Xavi also explained that while his team is working on eliminating individual mistakes, it is not only players’ own mistakes that have caused poor results this season:

“What we’re trying to do is correct individual mistakes to be at our best and win. We need to improve from now until the end of the season. It won’t be because of attitude and commitment. There have been many circumstances that have affected our ability to compete as well as last year.”

The head coach wanted one of his players to remain at the club at all costs: “Gavi must stay. For me, there’s no doubt about it. Gavi has to be the future of Barça.”

Even though his team was unable to win the last match, Xavi stated that he was still optimistic about the upcoming game: “My perception is always positive, otherwise I wouldn’t be here. What happened against Granada the other day was an accident. There are very important matches coming up, and I believe we’ll see the team’s reaction.”

“I have full confidence from the president, Deco, and the players. That doesn’t mean we’ll win the Champions League. We are united to compete as far as we can.”

Xavi confessed he was having mixed feelings since having announced his decision to leave the club this summer:

“On the one hand, yes, but on the other hand, I have a feeling of sadness. I think now the work we have done is more appreciated. At Barça, we are very passionate. I am calm and motivated to do things right. I will give my all to make this work.”

The gaffer also commented on the defensive changes he is trying to implement in his team:

“I think we concede too many goals and make defensive errors, both in defense and in pressing. It’s one of the key points where we are not competing like last year. We are looking for solutions, and now Christensen is playing as a pivot with four midfielders. We need to improve a lot defensively.”

Xavi ended the press conference by once again reiterating his love and commitment to Barcelona:

“I have always prioritized Barcelona. My last gesture was to put money from my own pocket to come and coach at Barcelona. I want to help Barcelona, and the last thing I did was to step aside to prioritize the club over myself. I won’t be taking a salary for the last year. I have made many gestures because I feel it’s the right thing to do.”

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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