Tactical Insights

Xavi was the reason I came to Barcelona

German midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has expressed his sadness at Barcelona manager Xavi’s decision to leave the club at the end of the season. The Spanish tactician announced in January that he will step down from his position in the summer.

For a club in a financial mess, Barcelona have handled their recruitment quite well, targeting free agents and high-level young players. The Catalans have signed several players on free transfers over recent years, but the acquisition of Manchester City’s Champions League-winning captain Gundogan stood out.

Ilkay Gundogan had just led the Cityzens to the treble and had a new contract offer from the club before deciding to move to Spain. The Germany international recently said that the main factor in his decision to join Barca was Xavi, who held several conversations with him.

He said (via FCB World):

“Xavi was the reason I came to Barcelona. I’m sad to see him go because I think he’s a great coach with a strong personality. In the dressing room, we respect his decision and we have to play our best for him.”

Gundogan has been one of the most dependable players for the Blaugrana this season, performing at an impressive level. The 33-year-old has logged the most minutes in Xavi’s side this season, with more than 3,000 minutes already.

Gundogan is also among Europe’s most prolific creators this season, having become the first player to create 100 chances this season against Getafe last weekend. The midfielder also has five goals and 10 assists in 38 appearances for the club this season.

Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta reaches 1000 career appearances

Former Barcelona captain and iconic midfielder Andres Iniesta has clocked 1000 senior appearances in his career. The Spanish midfielder was on the pitch for 80 minutes as his Emirates FC side lost to Ajman by two unreplied goals in the UAE Pro League.

The match for Emirates FC was his 12th since moving there in the summer from Japanese outfit Vissel Kobe. The 39-year-old played 723 matches for Barcelona and 134 for Vissel Kobe, while also appearing 131 times for the Spanish national team before his international retirement.

Iniesta has scored 104 goals and provided 192 assists across his 1000 games, while winning 38 major honours. He scored the winner for Spain in the 2010 FIFA World Cup final, and was part of the two treble-winning Blaugrana sides in 2009 and 2015.

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Edited by Shubham Banerjee

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