Xavi: Barcelona manager to 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 will step down at the end of the season.

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

He guided them to the Spanish title in his first full season in charge in 2022-23, but Saturday’s 5-3 home defeat by Villarreal leaves them 10 points behind La Liga leaders Real Madrid.

“I’ve been a man of the club. I’ve prioritised it above even myself. I’ve given everything I have,” said Xavi.

“And I will continue to do so to make the fans feel proud.”

The 44-year-old, 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.

The 2010 World Cup winner said he made the decision following talks with Barcelona president Joan Laporta, Vice President Rafa Yuste, with sporting director Deco.

“I think the club needs a change of dynamic,” said Xavi. “For the good of the players, I believe that they will free themselves. We play with a lot of tension.

“For the good of the board of directors, it is best that I leave. I will give my best. I think all of that will help the dynamic change. This is the message I would like to give. I think I am doing the right thing.”

Xavi said this month he would “pack his bags” if his players lost faith in him following a 4-1 defeat by rivals Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup.

Barca responded with back-to-back wins but then went out of the Copa del Rey with defeat at Athletic Bilbao on Thursday before slipping further behind in the title race at Villarreal.

Xavi hopes that by announcing his departure now it will “de-escalate” the situation for the rest of the season, which includes a Champions League last-16 tie against Napoli next month.

“I wouldn’t change my decision even if I won the Champions League. I will tell the players tomorrow. I’m the most responsible one, so the players will finally feel free now,” he added.

“I’m not driven by financial matters, but by my heart. I think it’s the best thing for the club.

“I don’t want to be a problem, but a solution, and I believe that between now and June I can still be a solution.”

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