Monday, June 17, 2024

Xavi lost faith in Barcelona squad, claims Laporta after Blaugrana coaching change

SoccerNews in La Liga 4 Jun 2024

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Barcelona president Joan Laporta says his decision to dismiss Xavi came after doubts the Blaugrana head coach had lost faith in his squad.

The LaLiga giants were expected to part ways with former midfielder Xavi at the end of the season, only for the Spaniard to change his mind and opt to fulfill his contract with the club.

Yet in another unexpected turn of events, Xavi was given his marching orders – and chief Laporta claims the Barcelona boss had expressed concerns over the capabilities of his current players.

“If Xavi can change his mind, so can we,” Laporta said in an interview with Barca One, the Blaugrana’s in-house television channel.

“Everything was a bit forced when we decided to keep him on. Xavi is a club legend and his enthusiasm led us to the decision to ratify his position.

“At the time of his U-turn, I asked him: ‘Do you believe in the team?’ He told me ‘Yes.’ He said he had faith in this team.

“However, there were then comments in which he changed his discourse after conversations with [sporting director] Deco with respect to necessary changes to the squad.

“That forced me to reconsider the situation and I felt the squad needed a new impetus to be more competitive and get the best out of what we have.

“I have had to make these tough decisions with Barca legends. My heart told me he should stay on, but not my head.

“I hope [our] relationship can continue. I have been through it with [Ronald] Koeman, [Lionel] Messi, [Gerard] Pique, [Sergio] Busquets, [Jordi] Alba and now Xavi. All decisions are made for the good of Barca — the club comes first.”

In stark contrast, Laporta assured new head coach Hansi Flick – formerly of Bayern Munich and Germany’s national side – backs Barcelona to succeed, with or without further investment.

“Flick feels capable of competing with this squad,” the Barca president continued. “That was decisive.”

“Flick’s task is to win and he’s accepted the challenge. The players must be well-prepared physically. The youngsters, the substitutes, players like [Robert] Lewandowski … everyone has to be in good shape physically.

“The physical preparation is essential because, with that, and having the ball, we can win everything. This season we saw the team dip after the 60th minute physically. We didn’t finish games as we wanted –in the two Clasicos, for example.

“I am not saying the team was not well prepared, but there are always things to improve. We need more.”

Although adding to the playing squad was a contentious issue leading to Xavi’s exit, Laporta expressed an interest in renewing the loans of Joao Cancelo and Joao Felix.

“We want the two Joaos to continue,” he said. “The idea is that they are here for another year. Deco is working on it. Flick rates them highly and when he was at Bayern he was interested in signing Felix.

“Just as we don’t need a big transfer out, we don’t believe we need big signings. Maybe a midfielder, a winger, but we also have an academy which can help fill these positions.

“We can compete in Europe with a squad based on the academy. That’s what Flick has conveyed to us and what we think.

“We have a squad that can compete in Spain and Europe with the chance of success.”

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