Xavi looked set to take a significant step towards becoming Barcelona’s new coach on Thursday.
The former Barcelona captain appears to be the only candidate the club have in mind to replace the sacked Ronald Koeman.
This has led a delegation from Barcelona to travel to Qatar in an effort to persuade Al Sadd, where Xavi is head coach, to release the former Spain midfielder from his contract.
Talks have taken place between senior officials from both sides and are said to have been convivial, and now it will reportedly fall to Xavi to take the next step.
Al Sadd chief executive Turki Al-Ali said earlier this week that the Stars League side remained “committed to keeping our coach Xavi with us”.
However, Xavi told Mundo Deportivo he was “very eager and excited” about the prospect of a Barcelona return, insisting: “I really want to go home.”
What could prove telling are discussions between Xavi and club president Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Thani, with the 41-year-old expected to tell the sheikh his heart is set on moving to Camp Nou. According to widespread reports in Spain, those talks will take place on Thursday.
The cash-strapped Blaugrana are reluctant to pay a €5million release clause for Xavi, Barcelona-based newspaper Sport reported.
It has been suggested in Spain that Al Sadd players are expecting Xavi to move on, with a 3-3 draw with Al Duhail on Wednesday followed by several messages on social media.
Rodrigo Tabata re-posted a video from supporters bearing the caption “Thanks Xavi”, and team-mate Baghdad Bounedjah did likewise with a post from Al Sadd’s official account that showed him embracing the coach.
Yet those appear tenuous and could also be interpreted as messages of support, to show how the players value Xavi, with Al Sadd’s stance showing little sign of shifting.
World Cup winner Xavi has spent the past two and a half years in charge of Al Sadd and still has two more years to run on his deal.
As a player, he racked up 767 appearances for Barca during his playing career – a tally only surpassed by Lionel Messi (778) – and won a glut of individual and team honours.
He won LaLiga eight times and the Champions League on four occasions before ending his 24-year association with the Catalan giants in 2015.
After seeing out the final four seasons of his playing career with Al Sadd and adding four more trophies to his collection, Xavi made the transition into coaching in May 2019.
Quoted in Mundo Deportivo on Wednesday, Xavi said: “I really want to go home. The two clubs are in talks and a resolution must be reached. I am very excited, but it’s a matter of respect – I have a contract.”