Saturday, May 21

Xavi is presented to 10,000 adoring fans as Barcelona manager at the Nou Camp

Xavi battles to keep his emotions in check as the new Barcelona boss is presented to 10,000 adoring fans at the Nou Camp before vowing to restore the ‘best club in the world’ to its former glory by winning ‘many titles’

  • Xavi was presented to Barcelona fans as the club’s new manager for the first time
  • He addressed the 10,000 supporters inside the Nou Camp welcoming him home 
  • Club legend vowed to have incredibly high standards and never accept losing 
  • He ceremonially signed his contract on the pitch and looked emotional  


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Barcelona’s new coach Xavi admitted he had turned down the Brazil job to move back home, and vowed to try to emulate his mentor Pep Guardiola as he takes over at the Nou Camp.

Presented to just under 10,000 supporters the 41-year-old said: ‘It’s true that we spoke with the Brazil Football Federation for me to be Tite’s assistant and then take over after the World Cup but my dream was always to coach Barcelona. I feel ready. This is the right moment.’

Asked by Sportsmail about the varying fortunes of returning football heroes as managers – with Zinedine Zidane and Pep Guardiola winning the Champions League at their clubs but Frank Lampard, Ole Gunnar Solskjær and Andre Pirlo struggling at theirs, Xavi said: ‘I know the club and what goes with it as well as some of the players.

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‘I know I will be criticised. Barcelona is the most difficult club in the world because it’s not enough to win you have to play well. It’s no good winning 1-0 with a 90th minute goal. We have to pursue excellence. I hope I can be in the first group with Pep and Zidane and not in the other.’ 

Xavi was presented to supporters for the first time since taking over as Barcelona manager

Xavi was presented to supporters for the first time since taking over as Barcelona manager

Xavi was presented to supporters for the first time since taking over as Barcelona manager

There were thousands inside the Nou Camp to welcome Xavi home and he was taken aback

There were thousands inside the Nou Camp to welcome Xavi home and he was taken aback

There were thousands inside the Nou Camp to welcome Xavi home and he was taken aback

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The former Barcelona captain was guarded when asked about who the club might try to sign in what will be another frugal winter market but he said the renewal of Ousmane Dembele was his ‘priority.’

He said: ‘Dembele, if he is well coached well, can be the best in the world in his position.’

Asked about Leo Messi, Xavi made light of the absence of the club’s all-time greatest. 

‘Of course I would like to have him,’ he said. 

‘I would also like to have Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto’o but they are not here any more and we have to move forward with what we have.’ 

Xavi and Laporta spoke to the crowd and lapped up their acclaim with the manager's wife Nuria Cunillera beside him

Xavi and Laporta spoke to the crowd and lapped up their acclaim with the manager's wife Nuria Cunillera beside him

Xavi and Laporta spoke to the crowd and lapped up their acclaim with the manager’s wife Nuria Cunillera beside him 

Xavi then ceremoniously signed his contract on a table brought onto the pitch

Xavi then ceremoniously signed his contract on a table brought onto the pitch

Xavi then ceremoniously signed his contract on a table brought onto the pitch 

What Barcelona currently have is a squad languishing in mid-table 10 points off of great rivals Real Madrid. President Joan Laporta admitted it would not be easy for the incoming local hero.

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He said: ‘I would love to have offered him a team that would make things easier for him but he inherits a squad that he can work with. 

‘He will have our support and if things begin to go wrong, even more so. He has come here at a time when the club needs him most.’

Xavi will be back among familiar faces although it has been suggested it will not necessarily be an advantage to have players under him that were once team-mates.

He said: ‘It’s an advantage to have players I know and who are friends. I have no problem with that but everyone starts from zero.’

Asked why he did not turn to Xavi earlier Laporta said: ‘I have always said that Xavi would be coach one day but I never said when. Ronald Koeman was a club legend too and he had a contract. He deserved our respect.’ 

Xavi posed with a shirt for photos and appeared to be amazed at the warm reception

Xavi posed with a shirt for photos and appeared to be amazed at the warm reception

Xavi posed with a shirt for photos and appeared to be amazed at the warm reception

Fans waited with baited breath to welcome the new boss at the Nou Camp before the iconic former midfielder emerged from the tunnel into the sunshine on the pitch with president Joan Laporta. 

They waved their flags in unison and for a moment it seemed as though the 41-year-old was genuinely taken aback by the outpouring of support. 

‘I don’t want to get too emotional,’ he told them. ‘So I can just tell you one thing – we are the best club in the world. And we will work with the highest standards to have success. We cannot accept defeats or draws, we have to win every game.

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‘We are going to work to try and win many titles, thank you very much, this is an emotional moment for me.

‘We need you. Especially during the bad moments. We are in a difficult situation as a club. We need you more than ever.’

Xavi then proceeded to sign a contract on a table that had been set up on the turf while his family and friends watched on a few metres away. 

He then posed for pictures while holding up a Barcelona shirt with his name on the back. 

Xavi was welcomed home in fine style but has an almighty task ahead of him at Barcelona

Xavi was welcomed home in fine style but has an almighty task ahead of him at Barcelona

Xavi was welcomed home in fine style but has an almighty task ahead of him at Barcelona

Xavi embraced Laporta and evidently the pair have a strong relationship, although no doubt that could be tested in the coming months as they club try to rebuild. 

Laporta then spoke to the crowd, saying: ‘Welcome Xavi and your family, welcome back home, this is a special moment for everyone.’

His words were almost drowned out by the noise created by the estimated 10,000 fans, who were serenading their new boss.  

The manager has joined on a two-and-a-half-year deal after he paid half of the £4.3million release clause to his former side Al Sadd.  


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