Xavi joins Barca: 5 immediate changes Barcelona can expect under their new manager

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Updated: November 11, 2021 6:52 PM

The World Cup-winning midfielder has wasted no time in stamping his authority and has already implemented strict rules as he bids to return the club to the halcyon days.

Xavi BarcelonaXavi won eight La Liga and four UEFA Champions Leagues titles as a Barcelona player. (Twitter/FC Barcelona)

Xavi returns to Barcelona: Crisis-hit Barcelona brought some cheer to fans with the announcement of club legend Xavi Hernandes’ return as manager after a spell at Qatari club Al Sadd. The Catalan club struggled under former manager Ronald Koeman, who left the club in ninth place after 12 matches, 10 points behind arch rivals Real Madrid in second place. The loss of Lionel Messi in the summer, coupled with a spate of injuries, compounded Koeman’s problems, leaving the Dutchman grasping at straws in his final days.

Xavi, however, has his work cut at Barcelona, where he started his playing career at the famous La Masia academy. The World Cup-winning midfielder has wasted no time in stamping his authority and has already implemented strict rules as he bids to return the club to the halcyon days.

Spanish publication Diario AS reported that the 41-year-old is a strict disciplinarian and was bringing back some of the methods from his playing that won him all those accolades.

Here are five changes that fans can expect from the Barcelona legend:

Tight leash
Xavi insists that the squad arrive for training 90 minutes before practice, while the coaching staff will have to arrive two hours earlier, Diario AS reported.

He has also ensured that all the players eat together at the club’s training facilities, the Cuitat Esportiva. Xavi is paying special attention to the players’ diets which, he believes, can prevent injuries.

He has also instituted fines, which will increase exponentially for repeat offences, for turning up for training late, while also limiting non-footballing activities.

Coaching team
Xavi’s new coaching team also highlights his keenness on getting the players back to full fitness. The former Spain international has dispensed off the services of physio Juanjo Brau — a Koeman appointee — following a spate of injuries to the first-team squad. Iván Torres will take his place as fitness coach, working under Albert Roca.

The former Barcelona captain is keen on fixing the fitness issues at Barca. The club have lost striker Martin Braithwaite for the remainder of the season, while Ansu Fati has also suffered two injuries since his return from a long layoff. Ousmane Dembélé is also back on the treatment table. Gerard Pique, Eric Garcia, and Nico Gonzalez are all out injured.

Image is key
Barcelona have endured a torrid PR spell recently with the fallout of Josep Bartomeu’s resignation to Messi’s departure leaving a bad taste. Diario AS reported that Xavi expects everyone associated with the club to uphold its image as a Catalan sporting institution. Everyone — from the players to the backroom staff members — are expected to carry themselves in a manner that befits the club’s history and traditions.

First-team squad
Xavi has already reportedly informed Dutch striker Luuk De Jong, signed during the summer on loan from Sevilla, that he was not part of his plans. Meanwhile, he has also urged President Joan Laporta to bring Portuguese winger Trincao, shipped out on loan to Premier League club Wolverhampton Wanderers, back to the club in January.

The La Masia graduate, who honed his skills playing under attacking managers such as Pep Guardiola and Frank Rijkaard, is expected to institute an all-out attacking play and Trincao features heavily in his plans. However, if Wolves refuse to allow the Portuguese youngster to return to his parent club before his loan deal ends, Xavi is likely to convert fullback Sergino Dest into a right winger.

Transfers
Barcelona endured a difficult transfer window with La Liga imposing strict salary restrictions that saw Messi leave his boyhood club for Paris Saint-Germain and Antoine Griezmann sign for Atletico Madrid. Barcelona signed Argentine striker Sergio Aguero on a free transfer, but with the former Manchester City man facing a heart issue and Braithwaite out for the season, Xavi has been left short of attacking options. Moreover, with Sergio Busquets on the wrong side of 30, Xavi also has his eyes on a midfield signing.

According to reports, Barcelona have targeted Chelsea striker Timo Werner and out-of-favour Manchester United midfielder Donny van de Beek as loan signings to give Xavi a squad capable of competing for a top four finish. Xavi will also have the famous La Masia to tap into for any untested player that he might fancy to take his team to the next level.

Xavi won eight La Liga and four UEFA Champions Leagues titles as a Barcelona player, and he will have noticed how the levels have dropped since his 2015 exit. Now, the onus is on him to return the club to the pinnacle of Spanish football where, he believes, the club belongs.

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