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Xavi: “We have to act quickly, we can’t lose a player like Gavi”

Xavi Hernández during the press conference before the game against Benfica / FC BARCELONA
Xavi Hernández during a press conference / FC BARCELONA

Xavi was present at the press conference ahead of Tuesday’s game against Sevilla and talked about Gavi’s contract, the gap with Real Madrid in the league table and more.

FC Barcelona will face Sevilla at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán tomorrow at 21:30 local time. Barça is coming off a very important 3-2 victory over Elche last Saturday. All three Blaugrana goals were scored by youngsters (Ferran Jutglà, Gavi and Nico). However, because of a bad run of form previous to the Elche game, Barça sits in seventh place in La Liga. On the other hand, Sevilla is in great form, having won its last five domestic games. After beating Atlético last weekend, Sevilla is in second place, only six points behind league leaders Real Madrid and with a game in hand. Xavi Hernández already pointed out the importance of this game for his team and was present at today’s press conference to answer questions.

About the game against Sevilla:

“It’s another opportunity, Sevilla is a direct rival. Sometimes we look at Bayern or other teams abroad, but how Sevilla has worked in recent years is remarkable. Lopetegui is one of the best coaches, they have Monchi in the scouting area… It’s an example for us of how things should be done. They’re a very direct rival, but we have to keep winning. We are starting to understand the model, the game we want to play. The players enjoyed the first half, it’s a pity we weren’t able to finish the game then. Tomorrow is a test for us, winning against Sevilla would give us a lot of morale, but it will be very complicated because they’re in very great form.”

“We’re facing a huge opportunity to sneak into the Champions League positions. We have won 10 of the last 15 points in the league, which is not bad, although we wanted all 15. We have to go to the Pizjuán, against a direct rival with an extraordinary squad. If we get three points that would take us up to the fourth place, depending on what Atlético does.”

“Sevilla is a great, spectacular team. They are three equally important points as in other games. We had a hard time against Elche, they were tough to play after the 2-2. But after our third goal, we continued playing on their half, which we failed to do against Osasuna. Whether it’s a big game or not, we have to leave with the three points.”

“They’re a candidate to win the league, just like last year. If they win tomorrow they’re three points behind the leader. They’re a real contender, if you see the squad, how they sign players, how Lopetegui works… They’re an example and they’re candidates in all competitions.”

“If we’re playing on the opposite half, we need to show high pressure and keep the ball. But we have a rival like Sevilla in front of us, it will be an exciting game for the spectators, perhaps not so much for the coaches. We were showing courage even against Bayern, we’ll always do that.”

About the gap with league leaders Real Madrid:

“We’re 16 points away from them now, it’s a huge difference but we don’t rule anything out. We didn’t add points to our tally against Real Betis, only one against Osasuna… They’re important details and we must continue adding points.”

About being critical of the way the team played in recent years:

“I wasn’t here for the last six years but now it’s my job, that’s why certain things surprise me. We have to work and grow, the way we played on Saturday is the way to go. You have to look forward, not backwards, that’s useless.”

About the importance of the youngsters of the team:

“Everyone is pulling their weight. I’m delighted with everyone’s commitment. I’m delighted with Piqué, Busi, Alba, Ter Stegen, or Frenkie. Even the injured players, everyone’s commitment is very good. I highlight the young people because they’re a surprise, they’re very young, some like Jutglà had not even debuted yet and they’re already making a difference.”

About Gavi’s contract:

“We have to act, and quickly. If necessary we put the money together ourselves… We can’t lose this type of player, just like Ansu, Pedri, Araujo, Abde… From what I understand, the club is working on it.”

About Sergiño Dest’s situation:

“He has physical problems, otherwise, we would’ve played him more often. He has had severe lower back pain, now he has fatigue in his adductors. It’s not a mental or football problem, but it’s not right to play him right now. It’s a physical problem, nothing more.”

About Marc-André Ter Stegen’s recent form:

“Marc is fundamental for us. His commitment and dedication are excellent. Sometimes he makes mistakes, he has to improve in goal and he knows it, but his footwork is excellent. But there’s no debate, he’s one of the best in the world and we have to help him improve.”

“A lot of teams put pressure on us and this has been the case in recent seasons. We won against Villarreal because of his saves, it’s good to criticize but we also have to highlight the good things. When there have been individual errors, the goalkeeper is pointed out a lot. But I’m happy with Marc, especially when it comes to playing the ball out from the back. At that aspect of the game, only Neuer is at his level.”

About Nico González:

“When he was younger, he played in Busquets’ position. But he’s also great at the one against one. He has a lot of quality, he has technique, he’s psychologically strong… He’s the example of a modern player. We have Busi, who is essential, and that’s why we use Nico in a more advanced position, but he can adapt to various positions.”