FC Barcelona fans can now breathe a sigh of relief with the appointment of new manager Xavi Hernandez finally confirmed. An agreement was reached with Qatari side Al-Sadd on Friday, and the presentation at Barcelona has reportedly been scheduled for Monday.
Since the sacking of Ronald Koeman over a week ago, Barcelona had been determined to bring the legendary midfielder back to Barcelona as their new manager. The move hit a few snags largely because Xavi is contracted to Al-Sadd until 2023 and they are currently in the middle of a title defence in the Qatar Stars League.
However, Xavi is determined to make the move and Al-Sadd had always been aware that the Blaugrana have been in talks with the former player for a long time. It was only a matter of settling the fees, and that was finally resolved on Friday.
Things became tense in mid week, with Al-Sadd releasing a statement that Xavi is still under contract with them and that he is focused on helping them defend their title. However, it seems that the man himself and the Barcelona representatives were able to find a solution, with Xavi reportedly paying 2.5 million euros or half of his release clause himself.
Al-Sadd had wanted to be paid the 5 million fee in order to release their manager and Barcelona's financial crisis meant that they had limited resources. Unconfirmed reports state that Xavi had to make a sacrifice by pulling funds from his own pocket in order to make the move happen. Details of his salary package with the Blaugrana are yet to be revealed. Conflicting reports also state that no fee was in fact paid, and the compensation towards Al-Sadd will come at a later date through various other collaborationswith the Catalans.
"Xavi informed us a few days ago of his desire to go to Barcelona at this particular time, because of the critical stage his hometown club is going through, and we understand this and decided not to stand in his way," read a statement from the club.
It will be an interesting experience for the Barcelona squad when Xavi arrives, as he had played with some of them during his time as a professional. He will be having a reunion with Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Sergi Roberto, Jordi Alba and Marc-Andre ter Stegen, but as their manager and not as teammate.
Xavi won't be in charge when Barcelona face Celta Vigo on Saturday, but he is expected to make his debut against Espanyol on Saturday, November 20. It's a timely transitions, with the international break providing him tie to settle in.