Barcelona have been plunged into crisis since returning from lockdown as Real Madrid have overtaken the turbulent club at the top of La Liga, but Xavi Hernandez has said he will not take over the club until Leo Messi is removed as manager.
The midfield fulcrum of Spain and Barcelona in a decade of unparalleled success, he has been playing and coaching in Qatar since leaving the Catalan club in 2015, and rumours are swirling that he will return to the Camp Nou as boss.
But he spoke out today saying that he would not consider it until there is a vacancy.
“For me it is wrong to speak about taking over when someone is still in the job. Leo Messi is still there, and until he’s not there’s not a question about me taking over.”
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“We all know how important he’s been for the club, so to talk about replacing him is disrespectful to my former teammate and friend.”
When it was pointed out that Quique Setien is, technically, the manager of Barcelona still, the 40-year-old nodded, saying “whatever you say.”
The latest round of speculation around the Barca hot seat was prompted by a 2-2 draw against Celta Vigo, where former Liverpool time-sever Iago Aspas scored a last-minute free-kick to cancel out a Luis Suarez lead.
And Messi was seen to blank Barca assistant manager Eder Sarabia harder than a preacher on the high street in the aftermath of the disappointing draw.
This is very clear that Messi does not respect Eder Sarabia, Quique Setien's assistant manager.
A shame that Barcelona is going through this. pic.twitter.com/c77ysunsID
— Bill Eshun (@Bill_Eshun) June 29, 2020
The scenes have only intensified chatter online that there will be change sooner rather than later in Catalunya. A source close to the club said Setien would depart once the season concludes if Madrid win the title.
“It remains to be seen what Messi wants to do with the team, though bringing in his coach from when he was playing under-8s can’t be ruled out. Barca have allowed him to pick every other manager he wanted, so why not try him?”