Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez has emphatically stated that he will part ways with the club “the day the players cease to follow him,” following a challenging first half of the 2023/24 season.
Despite clinching their first La Liga title in four years in Xavi’s inaugural full season in charge, Barcelona has struggled to keep up with Real Madrid and unexpected league leaders Girona this season, currently residing in fourth place and trailing by eight points from the top spot.
The recent low point came with a 4-1 defeat to arch-rivals Real Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana final in Saudi Arabia, intensifying reports of ‘growing discontent’ among the players who are now questioning Xavi’s tactical approach.
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Addressing the media ahead of Barcelona’s Copa del Rey match against third-division side Unionistas de Salamanca, Xavi asserted that he would leave the club if the reports of player dissatisfaction were accurate.
“I’ll pack my bags and leave the day my players no longer follow me,” Xavi affirmed. “If I hadn’t won La Liga last year, I wouldn’t be here. When someone tells me there’s a problem, I’ll leave.
“In my first season, the goal was to finish in the top four, and we came second. Last year, it was to win La Liga, and we achieved it. This year, the aim is to secure a trophy. We lost the Super Cup, and I apologized for the performance, but we still have three trophies to play for. If we don’t meet objectives, I will be the first to go.”
Xavi also highlighted that Barcelona is currently in the midst of a rebuilding process after financial challenges led to the departure of their all-time top goalscorer, Lionel Messi.
“Madrid was in our position last year, and they turned things around and won the Copa,” he explained. “When Barca appointed me while I was in Qatar, they informed me that the club was in one of its worst moments in history. We are revitalizing [the club].
“We are closer to success than defeat. I understand the criticism, I know where I am, but I have the same desire as day one. I will never be a problem for Barca. The moment they say I am a problem, I will be gone. Above all, I am a fan. I love this club. I will never be a problem; the president [Joan Laporta], Deco [sporting director], the players… everyone knows that.”