Barcelona midfielder Xavi is set to leave the Catalan club in the coming days to sign a four-year contract with Qatari side Al-Arabi. The Spanish International is to earn a mouth-watering €25 million tax-free wage from the deal.
The 34-year-old will return home next week after competing with Spain at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, where he is set to go public with his decision to leave the Catalans.
Spain boss Vincent Del Bosque and his squad have quite turned up in South America this year. The 2010 winners were eliminated after two losses; they were cut open by an impressive Netherlands side with a dogged performance from Chile seeing the Spanish unexpectedly crashing out.
The ‘tika taka’ approach from the likes of Iniesta, Xabi Alonso, Busquets and Xavi was nowhere to be seen, which resulted in Xavi being dropped from the starting line-up in the clash against the Chileans. A far cry from the Spanish dominance we have been used to in the last few years. The midfielder, who has played 133 times for his country, is expected to announce his retirement from the national team after their final group game with Australia.
The veteran maestro made his debut for Barcelona in 1998, where he went on to become an automatic starter for many years. Last season was much different under former manager Gerardo Martino; at times the midfielder had to settle for a place on the bench, including Barcelona’s title deciding game with Atletico Madrid on the last day of the La Liga season, ultimately watching his side not win any silverware during the campaign.
The playmaker’s agent, Ivan Corretja, has reportedly held talks with the Barca hierarchy on Xavi’s behalf to express his desire to leave the club. Newly formed MLS side, New York City FC, have also been firm favorites for his signature. However, the American Manchester City franchise have fallen short, with Xavi favoring a lucrative contract in the Middle East.
The World Cup winner has been an influential figure in Barca’s tremendous success over the years with Champions League, La Liga and Copa Del Rey triumphs on his illustrious footballing C-V.
New Barca boss Luis Enrique will continue his massive reshape of the squad this summer, with stalwart Carlos Puyol having retired while Cesc Fabregas, who was once upon a time seen as a long term replacement for Xavi, has returned to the Premier League with Chelsea. Goalkeepers Victor Valdes and Jose Pinto are also leaving, with their contracts coming to an end. With other current stars also being linked with moves away from the Camp Nou, it could see a transitional period as well as a massive squad turnover for some years.
Xavi’s departure will leave a gaping hole in the Barcelona midfield; without him the team will lack the flair to go forward, and his alliance with teammate Andres Iniesta has been a joy to watch and the experience he brings has been vital in the past with younger players coming into the team. Not only will the move have an impact on the pitch, the dressing room will lack their leader, the captain of the team and the presence of a club legend.