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Xavi talks Lamine Yamal, Lewandowski, Cancelo, and his future ahead of Barcelona vs Villarreal: “I hope I will be missed”

The last couple of weeks have been extremely tough for Barcelona. Not only did they lost to Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final, but they were also knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Athletic Club.

There is no time to grieve, though, as Barcelona will look for a way out of this situation and return to winning ways as they take on Villarreal at home this weekend.

Ahead of the game, Xavi addressed the media as part of his pre-game press conference.

“Villarreal are not doing very well, but Marcelino’s teams are always prepared,” he started off by saying about the 15th placed side, as quoted by SPORT.

“We have to react after the game in Bilbao. I think we competed well, with pride, and if we play like on that day, we will be able to win many games.”

One of their biggest concerns from the Bilbao game was Alejandro Balde’s injury. The Spaniard was initially ruled out for a month or so, but reports after that confirmed that he might have to undergo surgery, which will rule him out for the rest of the season.

“Balde? We have been meeting with him, with his family and we are with him whatever he decides. It’s a difficult moment for him, but he has to decide what is best for him. The decision is his. What he feels. It’s his career.”

The press asked him about Lewandowski, who has been regularly taken off recently in games as Xavi often plays Ferran Torres or Marc Guiu through the middle. He defended him, though, saying:

“Lewandowski has scored 3 goals in his last 4 games. He will continue to be important.”

Xavi also provided an update on Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s situation, confirming that he is on his way back, but his availability still depends on his recovery.

“Ter Stegen is doing very well, but I don’t know when he will be ready to return.”

One of the major talking points from the Athletic game was Lamine Yamal’s performance. The teenager was inarguably the best attacker on the pitch, but could not convert his chances, and apologised to fans after the game.

Lamine? Because of their age, they shouldn’t have that responsibility, but we are in the situation we are in. It says a lot that he felt guilty when he’s not. He was one of the best and was one step away from making a difference in the game. What he does has a lot of merit,” Xavi defended him.

He also spoke about Joao Cancelo, who might be ready to play again tomorrow: “I’m delighted to have Cancelo in the squad. He’s a great professional and a great person. It hurts him not to be able to help us, he’s very eager. In addition to his sporting quality, I highlight his human quality.”

Further, Xavi was also quizzed about Vitor Roque, who seems to be below Marc Guiu in the pecking order for him. The coached brought on the latter over the former against Athletic, which definitely raised some questions.

“Vitor Roque is our signing, not just Deco’s. The other day he didn’t play due to a tactical decision… But he already played at Villamarín and he will be a player who will help us a lot.”

Finally, a word had to be said about Hector Fort, who came on for Balde in the first-half, and was inarguably one of the best performers on the pitch. At 17, that too.

“Héctor Fort was exceptional, like Cubarsí, like Lamine… He’s a very prepared player, with a good mentality despite being 17 years old, he can play on two wings and I think he is already a player of the present.”

And as far as reports about losing the dressing room are concerned, Xavi continued to tell the media otherwise, much like his players.

“The dressing room is very united. I have not seen a dressing room like the one we have in my entire career.”

Xavi signed an extension at the end of last season after winning the league. His side were close to winning the domestic treble, too. However, performances this season have called his continuity into question.

“We’re talking about my continuity since July, since we lost a friendly against Arsenal. I’m calm, we are doing a good job, really. I live in a different reality than yours. We can still have a good season,” he said about it.

“I have been in charge for two and a half years. I believe my time remaining in this role is shorter rather than longer than that. Guardiola spent four years winning. Luis Enrique, three years winning. One day I will leave, don’t worry,” he added emotionally.

“I don’t know if I’m being judged unfairly or not. Here we value people when they leave. Now the work of Valverde and Koeman is valued…Busquets, too. I hope that I will also be missed.”

The biggest story from football today has been Jurgen Klopp announcing his decision to leave Liverpool at the end of the season after nine years in charge of the club, saying that he is ‘running out of energy.’

“I understand Klopp perfectly. Every day I ask my nutritionist to give me something to have more energy,” Xavi sent his sympathies the German legend’s way.

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