Barcelona icon Xavi has revealed he rejected a move to Bayern Munich in the summer of 2008 because of a vital intervention from Pep Guardiola.
The 35-year-old currently plays for Al-Sadd in Qatar after turning down the chance to join Guardiola in Germany in the 2014 close-season to spend one more year with Barcelona, a decision which proved successful as the club won the treble under Luis Enrique.
Xavi said he had a similar opportunity to join the Bundesliga side while he was in his prime as a 28-year-old, having just helped Spain to glory at Euro 2008, when Guardiola was on the other end of the conversation and persuading him to stay put at Camp Nou.
“After Euro 2008, I got the feeling that Barcelona were ready to sell me,” the World Cup winner told Marca.
“Real Madrid were winning things and we didn’t and I went to the national team knowing that the club would be open to selling me if a good offer came in.
“I spoke with my agent, Ivan Corretja, and he told me there was an offer from Bayern. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge wanted me.
“But then Pep Guardiola became the new coach at Barcelona and I played a great Euro 2008. Pep told me that I was not going anywhere and explained how he could not imagine a Barcelona without me. I was captivated by what he said.”
Xavi also discussed his friend Iker Casillas and expressed regret at how he had been treated at Real Madrid prior to his move to Porto earlier this year, as well as reflecting on how the pair defused the tensions between Barca and the Bernabeu club’s Spain stars during Jose Mourinho’s reign.
The midfielder continued: “It was not a pretty picture. Iker deserves all the credit for solving that. I was pretty calm about it all and he gave me an angry call.
“He called both me and Carles Puyol. ‘What’s wrong with you,’ he asked. I told him that both parties had to look at themselves in a critical way or what had happened.
“Things then all calmed down again and we discussed matters, also with Vicente del Bosque. Iker is a great guy. I have a very bad feeling about how he was treated by the people around Madrid and the press.
“He has always given his all for Spanish football.”