Xavi agrees to remain Barcelona coach in dramatic U-turn – source

Xavi Hernández has agreed to remain as Barcelona coach until the end of his contract in 2025, a source confirmed to ESPN, reversing his decision to step down in the summer.

Xavi, 44, announced in January that he would walk away from the post at the end of the season following a string of bad results, saying that the job had also taken its toll on him mentally.

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However, following a meeting with president Joan Laporta on Wednesday, the former Spain international has decided to fulfil his contractual commitment with the Catalan club.

Xavi was appointed as Barça coach in 2021, leading them to their first league title in four years last season and signing a contract extension until June 30, 2025, with an option for an additional year, in September.

The team ran into difficulties in December and January, though, when they conceded four or more goals in defeats to Girona, Real Madrid, Athletic Club and Villarreal as they were eliminated from the Spanish Super Cup and the Copa del Rey.

That 5-3 loss to Villarreal in January led to Xavi’s announcement that he would leave in the summer, but it also sparked a revival on the pitch.

Barça went 13 games unbeaten in all competitions, with Laporta, vice president Rafa Yuste and sporting director Deco all expressing their desire for Xavi to continue during that run.

That streak ended last week as Barça lost 4-1 to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League to exit the competition at the quarterfinal stage, missing out on a first semifinal appearance since 2019.

They then lost El Clásico 3-2 to Real Madrid on Sunday, leaving them 11 points behind the leaders in LaLiga and effectively out of the title race with just six games to be played.

However, sources told ESPN that those results had not affected Barça’s position on Xavi and that they still hoped he would reverse his decision.

In addition to the league title won and the faith placed in young players, such as Lamine Yamal and Pau Cubarsí, Barça’s financial situation also played a role in their desire to keep Xavi.

Mexico international Rafa Márquez, currently in charge of the club’s B team, and German coaches Hansi Flick and Thomas Tuchel were all on the short list to come in if a new coach was needed.

On Wednesday, though, the board convened to discuss the coaching situation and reaffirmed their preference for Xavi to continue, with a final agreement then reached later in the day when Xavi met with Laporta.