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Xavi: “Gavi and Araujo’s renewals are a matter of time”

Xavi at the press conference / CADENA SER

After claiming 3 crucial points against Elche, FC Barcelona face Galatasaray in the Europa League Round of 16 at the Camp Nou on Thursday. Xavi and Frenkie spoke to the press on Wednesday, where they talked about the upcoming match, Mazraoui, Haaland and much more.

Here’s what Barça manager Xavi had to say:

On playing against Galatasaray

“We are very excited. We are in a competition that gives us hope, we had very good feelings against Napoli. We are in a very good dynamic and we don’t want to get out of there. We have to continue creating chances, with good play, and try to win the game. We want to win and do well. We have to keep insisting on this game model that is giving us positive things.”

On the midfield combination

“Sometimes I prefer Frenkie to face and go down. Then in this role the best is Pedri. Frenkie is the best to make the line of three and that Gavi, Nico or Riqui are in the square that I say.”

On changes in coaches and his arrival at the club making the difference

“We will never know this. I am very grateful to the president and I have a very good relationship with Joan. We have made a fantastic team with Mateu and Jordi. He is a president who does not have two faces and I am delighted with it. We will never know if I had come in the summer what would have happened.”

On Gavi and Araujo’s renewals

“They are two very important footballers, present and future. The club is working with their agents to reach an agreement. It is a process and sometimes things take a long time. We hope that for the good of the club and the players. It’s a matter of time.”

On Galatasaray and their play style

“Dome is a friend. Five months ago he was in Qatar watching Al Sadd’s training sessions. He is a great coach, with experience and has a similar model to us. In the Turkish League it is a change. He has the ability to do well. Galatasaray’s have the quality to get out of this situation.”

On the objectives for this season

“There are two objectives. The first is to be in the Champions League and being champions in the Europa League gives us that or working well in LaLiga. The Europa League is an illusion for us, but LaLiga tells you where you will be in the season, what you’re really working on. They’re both season goals.”

On if Barça are favorites to win the Europa League

“I don’t see myself as one of the favourites. We have never won the competition. Sevilla are more favorites than us. We are one of the candidates and we have to prove it on the pitch. There is enthusiasm in Barcelona. Every game at Barça it’s an exam, but we haven’t done anything yet. We have to continue.”

On if there will be rotations

“Tomorrow there will be changes because there are tired players, with many minutes and inconvenience. Now we have a range of possibilities in the midfield and above. Fresh players who are training very well might get a chance to play.”

On if he’ll be watching Messi play in the Champions League

“I don’t know if it’s his garden, but Leo has done wonders not only at the Bernabéu. I will see him, I won’t go to dinner. The pity is that we are not in the Champions League. It is a great game and may the best team win I wish the best to Leo and Ney, who are friends.”

On if they need competition for Ter Stegen

“We all need more competition. When you don’t see your position clearly, you give more of yourself. If you see someone else who is doing well, you get the best out of your performance. Competition is good for everyone.”

On if he has got the team that he wants

“In many things I am very happy and satisfied. Koeman had a different model to ours and it was difficult to change it. We needed time and we have improved a lot. We are in a good moment, in good dynamics, but we have not done anything. The objectives remain and you have to fight to get to them.”

On where Galatasaray can hurt Barça

“Galatasaray is a compact team. Dome is trying to implement their model. They have individuals that have surprised us a lot like Aktürkoglu. It’s a team that can cause complications for us, but we have to make them suffer when they don’t have the ball.”

On managing the players in the squad

“We’re not talking about the future, we’re talking about the present. You never know when the opportunity may come and for that you have to train well. That’s why I feel bad about leaving out people who are working well like Martin, Riqui, Óscar or Eric. I insist that they have to continue training hard.”

On meeting Haaland and players wanting to come to Barça

“You confirm that I met Haaland. I didn’t know. It’s always a good time to come to Barça, for any footballer. There isn’t a footballer who has said no to Barça since I’ve been here.”

On facing competition for Manchester City to sign Haaland

“The player we want to sign, when we can talk to him, we talk to him about the game model, about the training sessions. If you will touch 20 balls at another club, here you will touch 40. The club, the city that is wonderful, the history of Barça… I try to convince them that coming to Barça is a golden opportunity.”

On Koeman’s recent comments

“I don’t want to comment on the Koeman-president relationship. I have absolute respect for Koeman, one of my favorite players, a reference. He’s a club legend and I had him as an assistant at Barça B, he helped me a lot as a culé I am grateful that he came to the club at a difficult time. He was brave with the young players and bet on them. I can only say good words about Koeman.”

On Dani Alves’ contract extension

“This is for next year. We can make a plan, but in the case of Dani it will depend on his performance. What he is giving us is spectacular. He is the player with the most titles in the history of football and he contributes a lot. He is a captain without the armband.”

On Iñaki Pena

“Iñaki was very brave because he had a difficult situation here with Ter Stegen and Neto ahead of him. We are following him and he is doing very well. The idea is for him to return to Barça and be important here.”

On Ansu and his recovery

“Ansu is in the final stage of his injury. Let’s see if little by little he joins the group. The sensations will mark his return a bit. Ansu has to be a transcendent footballer at Barça. The more important footballers at his side, the better footballer he will be, he will perform more.”

On if they can win the Europa League and chances of winning LaLiga

“We’re not ruling anything out. Every day that passes and the distance remains the same, it gets more difficult. Madrid is strong, but the rest are failing. Madrid is making the same points and it’s very difficult, but not impossible.”

Here’s what Frenkie De Jong had to say:

On the match against Galatasaray

“Galatasaray is a good team, but we always have to win and more at home.”

On the criticism that he faced at the start of the season

“We are in good dynamics as a team, I feel good and comfortable. I want to continue and above all improve.”

On the team’s recent performances

“We’ve been doing very well lately. We’ve won games and created many chances, we want to continue in this dynamic.”

On if this is his best version

“I don’t know if it’s my best version, I can always improve. When people criticize me, it doesn’t hurt much. I think they’re not watching the games well. I think people talk a lot and when certain journalists say ‘Frenkie isn’t playing well’, people believe it.”

On excitement for winning the Europa League

“We’re excited, we want to win titles and now we’re in the Europa League. We’re going with everything to win it”.

On if it would be a failure if Barça don’t win the Europa League

“It would not be a failure. There are good teams in the Europa League and you can have a bad day.”

On what sort of analytical videos Xavi makes him watch

“They are videos of the matches, of moments in which I can improve. About how I have to position myself, how to receive the ball, about all aspects of the game.”

On if people are overcritical of him

“I also think I can give even more. I’m working hard and talking to the coaches and the people at the club to improve.” 

On if this is a good time to come to Barça

“I think it’s always a good time to come to Barça. It’s one of the biggest clubs in the world and you can enjoy it a lot. Normally we opt for all the titles and if we reinforce ourselves well, I’m sure that next season we’ll fight for everything.”

On having played under 4 coaches in 3 seasons

“It’s never a good sign that there are four coaches in three years, but with all of them I’ve felt very good. When you don’t play well it’s not the fault of the coaches, it’s my fault.”

On Barça possibly signing Mazraoui

“Mazraoui has a lot of quality. I can’t say anything about whether he will come or not, but he is a great player.”

On Pedri

“Pedri has enormous talent. When he’s playing everything seems to be easy, but he does it perfectly. He can mark an era here for sure.”

On the young players and the competition in midfield

“I think we have a lot of players with a lot of quality in midfield. It doesn’t scare me and it’s great for the team. We can all start. I’m very happy with this.”

How the videos and analysis with Xavi has helped

“When we watch the videos they are about situations where we have to improve and how we can find spaces to give the last assist or score goals.”

On if the bad days of Barça are in the past

“We are in a good moment, lately we have won the games and this gives you confidence as a team”.

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