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28 Oct, 2021 14:28

Barcelona set to confirm club legend Xavi Hernandez as new permanent boss as Sergi Barjuan takes temporary charge

Barcelona set to confirm club legend Xavi Hernandez as new permanent boss as Sergi Barjuan takes temporary charge

Legendary former Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez looks set to be tasked with re-establishing his boyhood club to European football's top table as reports suggest he is poised to take the reins at the Camp Nou.

Numerous reports on Thursday have stated that Xavi, 41, will replace Ronald Koeman as early as this weekend after the Dutchman paid the ultimate price for Barcelona's miserable start to their Liga campaign, with Wednesday's insipid 1-0 defeat at the hands of Rayo Vallecano deemed the final straw by the Barca hierarchy – particularly after Sunday's 2-1 home defeat to Real Madrid. 

Koeman's tenure in Catalonia was a miserable one. He could only muster a third-placed finish in the Spanish top flight in his only full season in charge, ceding ground along the way to traditional foes Real Madrid as well as their city rivals Atletico and crashing out of the Champions League in the round of 16 with a two-leg, 5-2 aggregate defeat against Paris Saint-Germain.

And while it was announced on Thursday afternoon that Barca 'B' boss Sergi Barjuan has been installed as temporary manager, Xavi is understood to have agreed terms with the club to become its new coach in a deal which will be finalized when an agreement is reached with his current employers, Qatari side Al-Sadd.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta is reported to have made formal moves to secure Xavi's services early on Thursday – and had been in contact with the 133-cap former Spain international for several weeks while the clock ticked on Koeman's reign. 

Xavi left Barcelona in 2015 after a remarkable run of success where he enjoyed a formidable midfield pairing with Andres Iniesta; a duo who provided the bedrock under which Lionel Messi would thrive.

Of course, the atmosphere upon Xavi's return is different, with Messi now plying his trade in Paris and Barcelona languishing in ninth position while also being mired in financial difficulties.

It is understood that Laporta will address the Barcelona squad on Thursday afternoon, when he is expected to announce Xavi's imminent arrival – though Barjuan will likely remain in temporary charge for Saturday's game at home to Alaves.

Xavi, though, could be in the dugout for their next game – a Champions League trip to Dynamo Kiev. 

It certainly won't be an easy task, even for someone infused with 'Barca DNA'.

The loss of Messi had compelled Koeman to employ a more direct style of football and stray from the team's trademark 4-3-3 formation – a move which proved unpopular in the club's corridors of power.

Xavi will likely be tasked with removing these shackles while remaining firmly in the framework of the free-flowing football to which Barcelona and their supporters identify, with his 767 appearances for the club likely to soothe fans' nerves amid fears that the famous club was in danger of shedding its identity.

The relatively new coach has won seven titles with Al-Sadd already, leading them to a club record 34th game unbeaten this season at the top of the Qatar Stars League table.

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