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Football: Soccer-Squad doubts led to Xavi exit, says Barcelona president Laporta

(Reuters) – Barcelona president Joan Laporta said on Tuesday that he decided to sack coach Xavi Hernandez after the former midfielder expressed doubts about the squad.

Xavi, who joined Barcelona on a three-year deal when Dutchman Ronald Koeman left in 2021, led the Catalan giants to their 27th league title last season.

The 44-year-old was fired last month, only a few weeks after the club announced their former captain would honour the last year of his contract and lead them through next season.

“Xavi did a good job, he took over the team at a time of maximum difficulty, last year we won the league and the Super Cup, but this year things haven’t worked out,” Laporta told Barca One.

“In February I accepted that he should leave in June because it helped us not to look for a replacement urgently. Then he asked us to continue… It was all very forced when we decided on his continuity. Xavi is a legend and his enthusiasm made us take the decision to ratify him.

“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 made me realise that I had to give another impulse, it made me think again, and I thought of Hansi Flick to get the best out of this squad.”

Barca have been criticised for their treatment of club greats such as Xavi, Koeman and all-time top scorer Lionel Messi, who left the club for Paris St Germain in 2021.

“Everything can be done better. The what is well decided, the how it is executed, depending on the circumstances. When Xavi changed his mind, we had a very important game against Rayo in which we were playing for second place,” Laporta said.

“Xavi’s concern led us to rush the announcement of our decision. I didn’t want to make people suffer because they needed to know what was going on,” the president added referring to the recent announcement of the new manager Flick.

(Reporting by Janina Nuno Rios in Mexico City; Editing by Toby Davis)

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