Barcelona have entered a brave new era under their legendary former midfielder Xavi, who replaced Ronald Koeman as head coach this month.
The 41-year-old, who gained managerial experience with Al Sadd prior to completing an emotional return to Camp Nou, conducted an impressive first press conference in his new role on Monday.
Xavi will be acutely aware of the size of the challenge facing him at Barça, but this still represents an incredible opportunity that he was never going to turn down.
Barcelona currently sit ninth in La Liga, 11 points behind league-leaders Real Sociedad, while they’re also at risk of failing to reach the Champions League knockout stages.
On six points from their first four group-stage fixtures, Barça will probably need to beat Benfica on November 23 to stand any realistic chance of progressing. Their final group match, on December 8, is against Bayern Munich.
What rules has Xavi put in place at Barcelona?
Xavi has only been in his new role for a couple of days but, according to Spanish outlet AS, has already laid the law down with 10 rules that everyone at the club must adhere to.
1. Players must arrive 90 minutes before training starts
Barcelona training sessions will begin at 11am, as usual, but players will no longer be able to rock up in the changing room at 10am or later.
Xavi has requested that all players arrive by 9:30am at the latest so that they can properly prepare for the session, have a quiet breakfast, and hold individual talks with the coaching staff if required.
2. Staff must arrive two hours before training starts
Xavi knows how important it is for him and his coaching staff to set the best possible example. As a result, they will all arrive at the training ground at least two hours before the session starts.
This will ensure that players have everything ready to start their session at 11am.
3. Players must eat at the club’s training ground
Because a correct diet can prevent injuries and improve physical preparations, Xavi will ensure that every member of the first team eats in the Ciutat Esportiva’s dining room.
Players will no longer be able to decide where they eat and Barça’s nutritionists will be in charge of overseeing what they’re all eating and drinking.
4. Fines have returned
Fines for minor, serious or very serious misdemeanours disappeared after Luis Enrique’s departure in 2017. The thinking was that footballers are professional enough to know how to behave.
However, Xavi saw how the Barcelona squad benefitted after Pep Guardiola introduced strict sanctions when he replaced Frank Rijkaard in 2008.
5. Fines will be doubled each time for the same misdemeanour
Players’ fines will double each time they’re responsible for the same misdemeanour.
For example, if a player is late for a training session, he will initially pay a fine of €100. That will increase to €200 the second time, €400 the next, and so on.
AS say that some fines reached a whopping €6,000 during Enrique’s time in charge of the Catalan outfit.
6. Players must be home before midnight two days before a game
When Barcelona have a fixture, Barcelona players must ensure that they’re at home 48 hours in advance.
This will ensure that every member of the squad arrives to games in the best possible condition. It’s said to be one of Xavi’s non-negotiable requirements.
7. Players must give their all in training
Xavi will demand 100 per cent effort from each and every player in training sessions. Those who fail to impress with their work ethic will be benched or left out of the squad entirely. Players must compete just as hard in training as they do in matches.
8. Players’ off-field activities will be monitored
While it’s fine for Barcelona’s players to enjoy their free time, Xavi doesn’t want players making private trips that take several hours by plane during the season without his permission.
If players’ off-field activities start affecting their performances, they will find themselves supervised by the club’s coaching staff.
9. ‘Risky’ activities are no longer acceptable
Players will no longer be able to participate in ‘risky’ activities, such as surfing or riding an electric bike. Those who ignore this rule will potentially be in breach of their contracts and serious repercussions could follow.
10. A good image is essential
Players and coaching staff must set an example in public. They must be empathic with fans and comply with the rules of conduct at all times.
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