Barcelona ready to round up Xavi to replace Ronald Koeman

A delegation from Barcelona has traveled to Qatar to reach an agreement on the takeover of Al Sadd coach Xavi Hernandez at the Camp Nou, sources have told ESPN.

Vice president Rafa Yuste and football director Mateu Alemany flew to Doha after Tuesday’s Champions League victory over Dynamo Kyiv, and sources told ESPN that Barca hopes to announce Xavi as Ronald Koeman’s successor before the end of the week.

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Yuste and Alemany will take on Al Sadd’s top match against Al-Duhail on Wednesday, before talking with the Qatari club about bringing the former Barca midfielder back to LaLiga.

Negotiations with Xavi on personal terms are already underway, but with his contract with Al Sadd still running for two years, the two clubs have yet to reach an agreement.

Xavi, 41, is tasked with breathing life into a struggling Barcelona side. They are winless in three league games and are in ninth in the standings, although Tuesday’s result in Kiev means they can secure their place in the round of 16 of the Champions League with a win over Benfica on November 23.

Interim coach Sergi Barjuan is expected to retain the lead for Saturday’s game at Celta Vigo, with Xavi taking over after the international break, with his first game likely against rivals Espanyol on November 20 at the Camp Nou.

Xavi quickly emerged as the favorite to take over last week when Koeman was sacked after the surprise 1-0 defeat to Rayo Vallecano.

Barca president Joan Laporta has said there were also “other options” on the table, but sources told ESPN that Xavi was the No. 1 candidate to fill the vacancy from the get-go.

The ex-Spain international left Barca in 2015 for Al Sadd after spending 24 years with the Catalan club, making 767 first-team appearances, a figure only surpassed by Lionel Messi.

Xavi played as a player in Qatar for four years before starting his coaching career in 2019. He has already won seven awards as an Al Sadd manager and his team is unbeaten in 35 league games over two seasons.

Laporta had previously said he didn’t think Xavi was ready to take over Barca, but the club’s deteriorating results forced him to change his mind.

After firing Koeman, the president said he had “very good references” about Xavi as a coach and that he had already talked to him about how Barca can improve.

Xavi previously turned down the job when it was offered to him in early 2020 by the previous president, Josep Maria Bartomeu. Nearly two years later, sources told ESPN that he is now eager to return home.

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