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Xavi opens up about transfer rumors

Xavi Hernandez celebrates Al Sadd's goal against Al-Duhail during the AFC Champions League Round of 16 second leg on August 13, 2019 / KARIM JAAFAR/AFP
Xavi Hernandez celebrates Al Sadd’s goal against Al-Duhail during the AFC Champions League Round of 16 second leg on August 13, 2019 / KARIM JAAFAR/AFP

Barcelona head coach Xavi Hernández had an interview with Jijantes FC about potential signings and the upcoming season.

Following Lionel Messi signing for Inter Miami, the Argentine had an extensive interview with Mundo Deportivo and SPORT.

The Argentine joining the MLS means that Xavi will have to look elsewhere for Barcelona’s transfer targets for the upcoming season.

He sat down with Jijantes FC and Gerard Romero, for an interview, where he spoke about the plans for next season, and reflected on the season that just passed.

Here is what he had to say:

On moving from Qatar to Barcelona

“In Qatar, there was less stress. The quality of life [in Qatar] is very high, and we had a wonderful life there. When you come back to Barcelona, there’s a lot of stress, but I don’t regret it at all.”

“When [Joan] Laporta called me to sign for Barcelona, there was a clause that made it a bit difficult, but luckily it turned out very well. I appreciate him a lot. He really believes in me, and makes me feel very loved.”

On the pressure in Barcelona

“In Barcelona, you’re constantly scrutinized and you face a lot of criticism. The coach is responsible for everything. I try to stay very strong on a personal level, and I’ve spoken a few times with the club’s psychologist, Laia.”

“At Barça, nothing is valued. That’s how the environment is. The footballer doesn’t feel support from the public. You come in a 7/10, and automatically, before even having your debut, you’re a 5/10. Barça is the most difficult club to be in, in the world, by some margin. As a footballer, you don’t feel protected.”

“The player won’t feel the same pressure at the Montjuïc as they would in the Camp Nou. I think the fans are going to respond to that.”

On the team’s mentality:

“The team has learned to win. In the Champions League, we didn’t compete well. We had a very hard group and we had injuries, but that’s not an excuse.”

On how the Messi situation was handled

“I noticed a change in Leo Messi [and his behavior] in the recent days or weeks, which maybe wasn’t clear to me. Oftentimes, we lack empathy. It’s not easy to be Leo Messi.”

On the Messi dream

“The dream of Messi returning was there because I spoke a lot with him. All parties were very excited about it [a potential homecoming], with him being the first one to be excited about it. The circumstances didn’t allow it to happen.”

“I was convinced he could help us a lot. The last thing I’d ever want to do is to deceive a Barcelonista. The decision depended on him, and he was very excited.”

“It wasn’t an easy decision for Leo to make. His father was the one who called the club to tell them he wasn’t coming back to Barça.

On the upcoming season

“I have a lot of belief in that we’ll be able to compete for all titles next season. The financial situation that we’ve inherited [from Josep Bartomeu’s tenure] is very difficult. We’ll see how we can reinforce the squad. We have to fight for everything [in terms of trophies].”

On reinforcements

“I’m sorry to sound pessimistic, but we need reinforcements. I try to be honest. If we want to compete at a European level, we have to reinforce the squad well.”

“The [Sergio] Busquets replacement has to be of a very high level. We also need another attacker.”

“The pivot [that we get in] will have to win a lot of duels, not go out of position, and be physical. He has to have an excellent profile [that suits the club].”

“Names like Zubimendi, Kimmich, Amrabat, are always mentioned [in the press]. There’s a lot of media communication, and that’s normal. What you have to do is to decide based on what’s best for Barça.”

“We’re heavily dependent on the Financial Fair Play situation, but we have to look at all the possible scenarios. I’m optimistic, and I think we can reinforce the squad well.”

On the defense

“I’m very happy with our defensive performances. We’ve taken a step forward. In goal and in defense, nothing needs to change. We appreciate Arnau Tenas a lot. There won’t be any issues with his contract renewal.”

“We would need [to have] a right-back playing in his natural position, but there are other priorities. Jules [Koundé] has understood that, Sergi Roberto too, who’s more comfortable in midfield than out wide. Eric [Garcia] prefers playing centrally. Marcos [Alonso], we also use as a center-back even though he is a full-back.”

On his formation

“We’ve never played a 4-4-2. We never play with two strikers.”

On Julián Araujo:

“We want to try out Julián Araujo, as well as other players in the academy. He’s adapted very well [to FCB], he’s fast, and he’s a player with a personality. We want to try him out.”

On Vitor Roque

“There’s control around the situation. We’ve been waiting for him, and we’ve got it all under control. The financial situation will be decisive.”

On Jules Koundé:

“There are no issues with Kounde. The good thing about the squad is that they all put the team first.”

On Ousmane Dembélé:

“Dembéle is a very liked player in the squad. He alone turned whistles [from the fans] into applause. He gives me a lot of confidence.”

On the Neymar rumors

“I’m surprised about people saying Neymar. In theory, he’s not part of our plans. I appreciate him a lot, but there are other priorities. The technical staff know all the names [that Barça are considering].”

On Ferran Torres:

“Ferran has to feel valued and respected by the people. With him, and with everyone else, we have to decide what we’re going to do. We haven’t done that yet.”

On the Gamper trophy:

“At the Gamper game, I asked for Barcelona fans to come together. The fans’ temper and the excitement they have gives me goosebumps. It’s brutal.”

On Pablo Torre’s lack of involvement

“A lot of times I think “I wonder what Pablo Torre and Iñaki Peñá think about me?”, but I have to think about what’s best for the team. I’ve definitely been unfair with them.”

On Lamine Yamal

“Lamine is 15 years old, but he’s very talented. It all comes down to his mentality. I’ve seen a lot of players succeed despite not being as talented as him, and vice-versa.”

On Aleix Garrido

“We have to give Aleix Garrido confidence. He’ll probably join the first team on our pre-season tour [to the US in July].”

On the academy

“I’m very happy with Barça’s academy, but most of all with Rafa Márquez. He’s calm, honest, and expresses himself well. We’re very close, and that helps a lot in shaping the footballers the right way.”

“We always to reach meritocracy. If a player is playing well, we reward him by taking him up to train with us [the first team]. Joan Barberà keeps up well-informed, but the good attitude [of the players] is essential.”

“Bojan is a very good player, profile-wise. […] He’s a player who could help us a lot.”

On Mateu Alemany

“Mateu is very professional, faithful and hard-working. In a short time, I’ve come to love him a lot. It’s a pleasure to work with him.”

Xavi’s contract with Barcelona runs out next summer in 2024, and he has on multiple occasions said that the renewal is under control, and that there are no issues in that regard.