The legendary midfielder, Xavi, is sticking around for one more season, but there are quite a number of unresolved issues in Catalunya.

Seven Problems Xavi Must Now Fix After Barca U-turn

Xavi has decided to stay at Barcelona. Less than three full months after promising – repeatedly – in no uncertain terms, that he would leave the club at the end of the season, he has performed quite a dramatic U-turn, vowing to remain in charge until the end of his contract in 2025.


In the week since his announcement, the vibes around the club have been good.

A Champions League-winning club legend is sticking around to try and win a second La Liga title in three years.

It matters little to a section of supporters that Xavi is limited as a manager, or that Barca is still in a deep financial crisis.

The man they wanted to stay in charge will remain at the helm.


At some point, though, reality has to hit.

Xavi may have sworn to see out his contract, but the job is far from done.

In fact, the manager has tunnelled further into an uncomfortable situation.

And although he has the backing of the board, the grace of a portion of a fanbase, and apparent support from the dressing room, this is not merely a question of letting the good times roll.


This is, in fact, a very difficult job that will likely only get harder over the next 12 months, and Xavi will resume his Barca tenure with fires to put out everywhere.

As such, we are going to take a look at some of the most difficult tasks at hand…


Win Over The Doubters

The original fan reaction to Xavi’s decision to leave was one of indifference.

The Blaugrana faithful had taken in a team that looked void of ideas for the first five months of the season, as the manager’s methods – ones that had been enough to win them the league in May 2023 – had broken down.

The goodwill fostered by a club legend running the team seemed to be waning.

Xavi’s time was seemingly up.

Things have since turned around, of course, with fans heard chanting his name during Barca’s win over Valencia on Monday.

Still, that does little to change the fact that, this is a fanbase who are both disgruntled and confused.

The Blaugrana are a shadow of their former selves as an institution, lacking in Catalan identity and devoid of big La Masia stars – at least those with any experience – that carried them through so many years of success.

It doesn’t help, either, that noisy neighbours Girona are ever-improving, while Real Madrid are on the rise once more.

Barca fans need something to be excited about; Xavi has to bring that about.

Solve The Injury Crisis

Jurgen Klopp once claimed that, in the midst of a Liverpool injury crisis, he thought there was a “witch in the building” at the Reds’ training ground.

The litany of fitness issues was, of course, more likely due to a combination of bad luck and poor squad management than supernatural activity, but Xavi might just share a similar feeling.

Barca’s fitness woes have been crippling at times this season, with the Blaugrana losing a number of key players due to a range of issues.

Gavi has missed most of the season after tearing his ACL in November.

Alejandro Balder has been out of action since January after undergoing hamstring surgery.

Frenkie de Jong’s ankle issues are becoming a real concern.

Pedri still can’t be trusted to play 90 minutes.

There is such a thing as bad luck, but, more broadly.

However, Xavi might simply have to be more shrewd with how he manages this squad.

Barca have shouldered youngsters with heavy minutes for years, while some of the older heads have simply looked too tired.

Xavi can have complaints about squad depth and fixture congestion.

But more simply, he will have to be careful about managing minutes.

Embrace Laporta’s Outbursts

Unsurprisingly, the Barcelona manager cannot control the voice of the man who employs him – and could just as easily fire him.

But Joan Laporta has been on a PR tear of late, picking fights with everyone in the Spanish football landscape.

In the past 12 months alone, he has gone to war with La Liga president Javier Tebas.

He released a video condemning Real Madrid and attacked referees in the press.

He seems to make headlines every week for a new piece of drama, or novel offence.

Barca is a massive media circus, and Laporta is at the centre of it all.

Xavi, try as he might, cannot seriously affect the stream of consciousness ramblings of an avid Culer.

But he will certainly have to learn how to ally himself with the club structure.

Especially given the fact they have so readily backed him when he perhaps should be out of a job.

Work Within A Tight Budget

In news that will shock almost nobody by now, Barca have financial woes to worry about.

Laporta may have pulled every lever in existence, but Barca still find themselves in immense debt, and will likely have to continue to cut costs to stay afloat.

How, exactly, that presents itself on the pitch remains to be seen.

But it does seem that there isn’t much room for investment in the squad right now.

Barca struggled to register new signing Vitor Roque in January.

Only completing the deal once money was freed up thanks to a La Liga loophole after injured Gavi was ruled out for the rest of the season.

That doesn’t offer much hope if the Blaugrana are looking to piece together a summer of spending.

They might, in fact, have to sell in order to revamp things, and there are options on that front.

Raphinha, who can fetch a handsome return, does seem likely to depart.

There is even talk that one of Gavi or Pedri could be let go to increase the budget.

It seems unlikely, too, that loan duo Joao Cancelo and Joao Felix can be bought permanently.

Xavi, therefore, might be working with a weaker squad next term.

Phase Out Ageing Superstars

There are some players, though, who simply cannot be moved, no matter how hard Barca might try.

Robert Lewandowski is well into his 30s, while Ilkay Gundogan, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Sergi Roberto and Marcos Alonso are all ageing – and likely past their peaks as players.

The issue for the Blaugrana is that three of them – Gundogan, Ter Stegen and Lewandowski – are high-earners who simply cannot be moved.

That doesn’t seem to be a problem for Ter Stegen or Gundogan, who both continue to perform at a high level.

But there is a Lewandowski issue to contend with.

The Poland striker has two years left in his contract and has undoubtedly lost a step as a player.

At times, he has looked too immobile for the attacking style that Xavi wants to play.

At some point, there will be a tricky decision to make – especially with Roque and fellow teenager Marc Guiu waiting in the wings.

Find A Reliable No.6

One issues that has plagued Xavi throughout the campaign is that Barca have never really replaced Sergio Busquets following his departure for Inter Miami last summer.

The regista was reborn in his final season in Spain.

Looks like his old self in a cleverly-constructed box midfield that allowed him to tackle and pass without having to cover immense amounts of ground.

Barca were never going to find the next Busquets given their financial issues, but they haven’t exactly done a fantastic job of replacing him.

Veteran signing Oriol Romeu has been a disappointment, while Andreas Christensen is nothing more than a converted centre-back filling in.

The Blaugrana, then, need a new defensive midfielder.

Martin Zubimendi would be the dream target.

But Barca can’t afford him, and it’s unlikely that Real Sociedad would be willing to part with their best player.

There’s been talk of a deal for Real Betis’ veteran midfielder Guido Rodriguez, but even that would be underwhelming for a club that needs to aim higher.

Can Xavi cope, then, with another year of mediocrity at his most important position?

Match An Improving Madrid

Perhaps most concerning of all, though, is what’s happening beyond Catalan borders.

Real Madrid, after losing Karim Benzema and missing out on Kylian Mbappe, were supposed to be facing a year of transition.

Instead, Carlo Ancelotti reinvented Los Blancos, and has them in line to win a La Liga-Champions League double, with Jude Bellingham as the potential Ballon d’Or-winning centrepiece of the side.

Concerningly for Barca, they will only get better from here.

Mbappe is finally set to arrive this summer, and he will be joined by Brazilian wonderkid Endrick, and possibly Bayern Munich contract rebel Alphonso Davies.

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Adding that trio to a young core that includes Bellingham, Rodrygo, Vinicius Jr, Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga.

All of whom are 23 and under – and this Madrid side profiles as on that will be very good for a very long time.

Xavi, therefore, has a tough job on his hands if he wants to keep up.

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