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regular-article-logo Thursday, 13 June 2024

Xavi Hernandez feels proud to leave Barcelona with ‘clear conscience’

'I have been here two-and-a-half years. It has not been easy. But, I think that we can feel proud of the work we have done'

AP/PTI, Reuters Barcelona Published 26.05.24, 06:10 AM
Outgoing Barcelona coach Xavi.

Outgoing Barcelona coach Xavi. File picture.

Xavi Hernandez said on Saturday that he is leaving Barcelona with “a clear conscience” that he did his best after the club decided to part ways with the former player, but that it will be up to president Joan Laporta to explain why he is going.

“These have obviously been tough days, but my conscience is clear,” head coach Xavi said. “I have been here two-and-a-half years. It has not been easy. But, I think that we can feel proud of the work we have done.”

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In his first news conference since Barcelona announced on Friday that Xavi would not finish the final year of his contract, the 44-year-old said that he will now “take a break” from coaching.

His last game in charge will be at Sevilla on Sunday.

Xavi’s departure comes just one month after he had walked back a previous decision he made in January to leave the club this summer.

In April, he said that he had changed his mind because the team was playing better and he believed it could bounce back from a trophy-less campaign.

Laporta had publicly celebrated Xavi’s commitment to stay at that time.

But, last week the president was reportedly displeased when the head coach spoke openly about how the club’s poor finances would impede it from competing with fierce rival Real Madrid.

Neither Laporta nor any club official has said why they wanted Xavi to leave, and the head coach did not shed any light on the circumstances of his exit either.

“The president told me his reasons for why he thinks the club needs a change, and I can only respect that. I am a club man,” Xavi said.

“We shook hands, hugged and wished one another the best. From now on I will be just another fan. He will have to explain his motives.”

Xavi’s only previous coaching job was at a Qatari club before Laporta brought him back to take over at Barcelona in November 2021.

He led the team to the Spanish League title last year, their first major trophy since Lionel Messi left, and signed a one-year contract extension in September.

But, Barcelona struggled to compete this campaign and they will finish the league a distant second to champions Madrid.

Spanish and German media speculated that former Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick would become Xavi’s replacement. Whoever arrives will inherit a team with young talents.

Atletico Madrid ended their campaign with a 2-0 win at Real Sociedad on Saturday thanks to a first-half strike by Samuel Lino and a Reinildo Mandava tap-in in stoppage time.

Surprise package Girona claimed the biggest win in the club’s history as they thrashed relegated Granada 7-0 at home on Friday to complete a dream season with a third-place finish.

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