Barcelona have appointed Xavi Hernández as their new head coach.
The crisis-hit club confirmed the return of their former player on Twitter late on Friday evening.
“Barcelona have reached an agreement with Xavi Hernández for him to become first team coach for the rest of the current season and two more seasons,” a club statement said. He’ll be presented to the public on Monday Barca said.
Qatari club Al Sadd where Xavi was manager have suggested Barcelona have paid a release clause worth around €5 million.
Xavi’s appointment follows the departure of previous coach Ronald Koeman last Wednesday night.
Al Sadd CEO, Turki Al-Ali, confirmed the news on Friday morning, saying: “The Al Sadd administration has agreed on Xavi’s move to Barcelona after the payment of the release clause stipulated in the contract.
“We’ve agreed on cooperation with Barcelona in the future. Xavi is an important part of Al Sadd’s history and we wish him success.”
Koeman, following a meek 2-1 defeat last Sunday’s Clasico and embarrassing 1-0 loss to Rayo Vallecano three days later, was relieved of his duties as coach having been at the helm since summer 2020. His contract was due to expire at the end of the 2020-21 season.
On Thursday — the day after Koeman’s sacking — Barcelona put Sergi Barjuan, their B team coach, in temporary charge of the first team. Barjuan took charge of the 1-1 draw with Alaves and 1-0 win over Dynamo Kyiv.
Xavi came through the ranks at Barcelona’s famed La Masia, making his first-team debut in 1998. Throughout a 17-year career with his boyhood club, the 41-year-old made 767 appearances, winning eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues.
He also won the 2010 World Cup and two European Championships with Spain – before ending his career with Al-Sadd whom he joined in 2015, making over 100 appearances for the side and winning one league title before retiring in 2019 and taking over as manager.
Since Barcelona sacked Koeman, Xavi has been heavily linked with a return to the Nou Camp where he spent the majority of his illustrious playing career.
Barcelona are ninth in La Liga after winning only four of their opening 11 games, leaving them nine points adrift of leaders Real Sociedad.
“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,” said Al Sadd chief executive Turki Al-Ali.
The Catalan club has this season struggled under financial pressures, and failed to extend Xavi’s former team-mate Lionel Messi’s stay because of salary constraints.
Barcelona were unable to spend any money on new signings in the summer, with Memphis Depay, Sergio Aguero and Eric Garcia arriving as free transfers and striker Luuk de Jong joining on loan from Sevilla.