Barcelona boss felt ‘liberated’ by announcement he will leave at end of season

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Xavi scored 85 goals in 767 appearances for Barcelona between 1998 and 2015

Barcelona manager Xavi says he felt “liberated” following the announcement that he would step down from the role at the end of the season.

The 44-year-old made the announcement on Saturday after his side lost 5-3 at home to Villarreal in La Liga.

Xavi said he made the decision to leave “at the beginning of the season”.

“Our job and what we have done is not well valued, and that’s why I decided that it [the season] was going to be my last one as coach,” he said.

“They make you feel you are not worth it, every day. It happened to all coaches – I spoke to Pep [Guardiola] and he already told me, also with Ernesto [Valverde], with Luis Enrique I lived it, I saw him suffer.

“I have heard I made the decision for one reason or another but no, it’s just because I think our job and what we have done is not well-valued and that’s why I decided a long time ago, in fact at the beginning of the season.

“The announcement liberated me on a personal level, but I remain very motivated.”

The former Barcelona and Spain midfielder took charge in November 2021 after leaving Qatari club Al Sadd.

Xavi, who won 25 honours during an illustrious playing career at Barcelona, will officially step down on 30 June despite still having a year left on his contract.

Following the announcement he said it had been “tough” from a “mental-health level” being head coach at the Spanish giants, and reiterated that at a media conference on Tuesday, saying the mental toll felt “cruel”.

“I have already said we need to ponder these things. I think we have a problem on the demands of this job,” he said.

“I think there’s a problem because you don’t enjoy it and there’s no quality of life, then it looks like your life is at stake every moment.

“It doesn’t happen in other clubs – that’s why I say it’s cruel. You don’t really enjoy it, it’s cruel. That’s how I feel.”

Xavi, who guided Barca to the La Liga title in his first full season in charge in 2022-23, did not rule out a return to the club.

“I don’t discount it [to come back as coach],” he said.

“I’ve already said I’m a club man and the club will have me for whatever they need, but I think that the club doesn’t need me now. That’s my feeling.

“I think we need more hope, another type of coach and person and that’s why I announced it. But no, I don’t discount coming back at all.”

Xavi’s side face Osasuna on Wednesday and sit 11 points behind La Liga leaders Girona following Saturday’s defeat.

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