Thursday, January 27, 2022

Xavi vows Barcelona must keep young sensation Gavi as crunch Sevilla test awaits

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 20 Dec 2021

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Xavi has declared it a priority for Barcelona to tie down their bright young stars to new contracts, to stave off the threat of other clubs pouncing.

Ahead of a clash with Sevilla on Tuesday that Xavi described as “a huge opportunity” for Barcelona, the head coach stressed his desire to keep hold of the players coming through the club’s ranks.

They are set to form the backbone of Barcelona’s first team for years to come, providing they can be retained, and already the club have made serious efforts in that regard.

Pedri recently signed a deal tying him to Barcelona until 2026, and Ansu Fati has committed until 2027.

Nico Gonzalez, described by Xavi on Monday as “a total footballer”, has a deal running until 2024, and Gavi is reportedly close to signing a long-term deal that Xavi wants to see get over the line.

Ez Abde joined from Hercules at the end of the last transfer window and went into the Barcelona B squad, but he has recently been featuring in the first team and it may be the case that his contract is soon upgraded to reflect that promotion.

Gavi has been this season’s revelation, with the 17-year-old midfielder impressing to such an extent he has already been capped by Spain.

It was pointed out to Xavi on Monday that Gavi is one of the lowest-paid players in the Barcelona squad. The teenager reportedly has a deal that runs until 2023, and Barcelona want to make it a longer-term arrangement.

“We must act to renew him. If necessary, we will put the money together. We cannot lose these players: Nico, Pedri, Ansu, Abde, [Ronald] Araujo. I understand that the club is already working, and it is essential for the team,” Xavi said.

Barcelona sit seventh in LaLiga as they prepare to tackle Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla side who are second, six points behind Real Madrid but with a game in hand.

There is the chance for Barcelona to climb to fourth – a Champions League place – with victory at the Sanchez Pizjuan, and Xavi said: “It is a huge opportunity.”

The Blaugrana have taken 10 points from a possible 15 since Xavi became coach, stepping in after Ronald Koeman’s tenure finally ended.

“It’s not bad,” he said of that points haul. “Sevilla have done very well. For me, they are an example to follow. Their philosophy and idea of ​​a club, their coach. They are role models.

“Sevilla are direct rivals. I think we are in a good moment. We are happy, I think we understand what we want.”

Xavi reasonably felt his team should have done better than post a narrow 3-2 win over Elche on Saturday, given their overwhelming dominance of that game, and he says there is no room for error at this stage of the season.

“Tomorrow is another final and we will go there to win,” he said.

“Our game model is to be daring, but Sevilla also want to do that. It will be an extraordinary match.”

Carlo Ancelotti said Barcelona were not direct rivals to his Real Madrid team at present, when he spoke last week, and although there was plenty of logic behind that remark, Xavi’s team could yet be a factor over the second half of the season.

“We are 16 points behind and that is a huge difference,” said Xavi. “We don’t rule out anything.”

But Xavi concedes Sevilla are in an excellent position, with their weekend win over last season’s champions Atletico Madrid confirming that.

Asked whether Sevilla could be champions this season, Xavi said: “Yes, it’s clear. They were already a candidate last year.

“If they win tomorrow, they are three points behind the leaders in the middle of the season. Sevilla are a reality. 

“When you see how Lopetegui works, how [sporting director] Monchi works, for me they are an example to follow. They are candidates to win any competition they take part in.”

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