New Chelsea signing Cesc Fabregas appears to have inadvertently revealed that Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez will leave the Camp Nou this summer. The Spain international joined the Blues from Barça at the end of last week, but it seems he isn’t the only Catalan midfielder set to depart the La Liga outfit before the start of the 2014/15 campaign.
Speaking to Spanish newspaper Marca, Fabregas stated: “[Xavi] and [Carles] Puyol have decided to step aside, to be closer to their families, away from the [demands of Barcelona].”
Xavi, having played a crucial role for Barcelona during the most successful period in the club’s long history, is widely considered one of the greatest midfielders of his generation - and arguably the best midfielder Spain has ever produced. A Barcelona icon, the 34-year-old joined the club’s famed La Masia academy aged 11 in the early 1990s and went on to exceed all expectations, winning a host of major honours throughout his glittering career.
Difficult relationship with Luis Enrique?
Xavi is contracted to Barcelona until June 2016 but, after a disappointing season with his beloved Barcelona, it seems he may have decided to call time on his spell at the Camp Nou. It’s unclear whether he has spoken with newly-appointed manager Luis Enrique, although rumours suggest the two men don’t see eye-to-eye, which may well be a contributing factor towards Xavi’s decision to leave the club now, rather than in two years’ time.
Xavi and Enrique spent seven years together as teammates before the latter called time on his career in 2004, just as the former was well on his way to cementing his status as the club’s most important central midfielder.
Many at Barcelona regard the football-mad Xavi as a certainty to become Barcelona head coach - following in the footsteps of the great Pep Guardiola - in the future. But, like Guardiola, Xavi may decide to end his playing career outside of Catalonia to enhance his knowledge of the game and experience difficult styles of playing before hanging up his boots.
Reports have linked Xavi with a move to several clubs over the last few months, including Arsenal and Manchester United. Manchester City have also been linked, a move to England may appeal to the World Cup winner despite his advancing years.
Marca, however, believe Xavi could begin the next stage of his career in Qatar. The midfielder has reportedly received lucrative contract offers worth in excess of €8 million-a-season. But Xavi is a player with football coursing through his veins, and his next decision will not be determined solely by financial incentives.