Tactical Insights

Barcelona chief Laporta: Xavi didn’t have faith in Barça squad

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has revealed that doubts about whether Xavi Hernández genuinely believed in the current squad led to the decision to replace him with German coach Hansi Flick last month.

Speaking for the first time since sacking Xavi, Laporta also confirmed Barça’s desire to extend João Félix and João Cancelo‘s loan deals and sign a midfielder and a winger, while insisting the club’s financial situation will not oblige them to listen to offers for their best players this summer.

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Xavi had originally announced in January that he would step down at the end of the season, only to reverse his decision in April. However, just three weeks later, Laporta dismissed him.

“If Xavi can change his mind, so can we,” Laporta said in an interview with Barça One, the Catalan club’s in-house television channel.

“Everything was a bit forced when we decided to keep him on. Xavi is a club legend and his enthusiasm led us to the decision to ratify his position.

“At the time of his U-turn, I asked him: ‘Do you believe in the team?’ He told me ‘Yes.’ He said he had faith in this team.

“However, there were then comments in which he changed his discourse after conversations with [sporting director] Deco with respect to necessary changes to the squad.

“That forced me to reconsider the situation and I felt the squad needed a new impetus to be more competitive and get the best out of what we have.

“I have had to make these tough decisions with Barça legends. My heart told me he should stay on, but not my head.

“I hope [our] relationship can continue. I have been through it with [Ronald] Koeman, [Lionel] Messi, [Gerard] Piqué, [Sergio] Busquets, [Jordi] Alba and now Xavi. All decisions are made for the good of Barça — the club comes first.”

In contrast, Laporta said Flick feels Barça, who finished second in LaLiga and exited the Champions League at the quarterfinal stage in 2023-24, can be successful with the current team.

“Flick feels capable of competing with this squad,” the president explained. “That was decisive.”

Laporta said one of Flick’s tasks will be to improve the players’ fitness, noting that it was an area where they struggled under Xavi.

“Flick’s task is to win and he’s accepted the challenge,” he continued. “The players must be well-prepared physically. The youngsters, the substitutes, players like [Robert] Lewandowski … everyone has to be in good shape physically.

“The physical preparation is essential because, with that, and having the ball, we can win everything. This season we saw the team dip after the 60th minute physically. We didn’t finish games as we wanted — in the two Clásicos, for example.

“I am not saying the team was not well prepared, but there are always things to improve. We need more.”

Laporta also looked ahead to the summer transfer window, claiming Barça will not need to let go of any of their best players if big offers arrive despite their financial problems — “unless they ask to leave.”

In terms of signings, he added that the club would like to renew the loans of Félix and Cancelo, from Atlético Madrid and Manchester City respectively, and revealed the other areas of the team they would like to improve.

“We want the two Joãos to continue,” he said. “The idea is that they are here for another year. Deco is working on it. Flick rates them highly and when he was at Bayern he was interested in signing Félix.

“We will study what [else] is needed with Flick. Maybe we need to strengthen in defensive midfield. [Andreas] Christensen has helped us there, but we have to add another player.

“We also think there are players in the B team, like [midfielder] Marc Casadó, who has had an extraordinary season. But we don’t talk about players, just about positions.

“Just as we don’t need a big transfer out, we don’t believe we need big signings. Maybe a midfielder, a winger, but we also have an academy which can help fill these positions.

“We can compete in Europe with a squad based on the academy. That’s what Flick has conveyed to us and what we think. We have a squad that can compete in Spain and Europe with the chance of success.”

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