Champions League

Xavi to remain Barcelona coach: club to AFP

Xavi to remain Barcelona coach: club to AFP

I’m staying: Barcelona coach Xavi (JAVIER SORIANO)

Xavi will remain as coach of Barcelona, the Spanish giants told AFP on Wednesday, despite having announced in January that he planned to quit at the end of the season.

Spanish media reported that the 44-year-old, who had signed a contract extension until 2025 last autumn, decided on his dramatic change of mind after a day of meetings with club president Joan Laporta and sporting director Deco.

Xavi's decision comes just a week after Barcelona were knocked out of the Champions League in the quarter-finals by Paris Saint-Germain.

On Sunday, the defending champions fell 11 points behind Real Madrid in La Liga's title race following a 3-2 Clasico defeat to their bitter rivals.

Former Barcelona midfielder Xavi said he felt "liberated" when he made his decision to stand down.

He had repeatedly said the job was his "dream" but admitted the pressure of the role eventually proved too much.

"You are made to feel every day that you are not good enough," he said after a shock 5-3 home loss to Villarreal.

"It happened to all the coaches: Pep (Guardiola) told me, it happened to (Ernesto) Valverde, I saw Luis Enrique suffer."

Barcelona, who have struggled with financial issues in recent seasons, appointed Xavi as boss in November 2021 and he helped turn their fortunes around, lifting the league title last term.

But this season they were also thrashed 4-1 by Real in the Spanish Super Cup and were dumped out of the Copa del Rey by Athletic Bilbao.

"The announcement liberated me on a personal level," he said in January.

"From June 30 I will not continue as Barca coach … as a Barca fan, I think the club needs a change of dynamic."

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