LaLiga English

Xavi ready to manage Barcelona, coaching Lionel Messi would be a ‘privilege’

Latest reports cite Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez saying he’s actually ready to manage Barcelona despite earlier reports to the contrary, and that having to coach former teammate Lionel Messi would be a “privilege” instead of being a problem.

The Al Sadd coach had been very strongly linked with the hotseat this summer before president Joan Laporta made his final decision recently to stick with Dutchman Ronald Koeman for another season.

Xavi, 41, revealed he and the Barca management have not been in contact since Laporta took office in March, but confirmed he is open to offers as the next stage of his coaching career beckons.

“I am always on the market,” he said at a news conference Thursday to signal the start of the 23rd Campus Xavi, a summer training camp for children in Catalonia.

“The club decided to continue with Koeman and I wish him the best. In these last four months, I have not had any contact with [Laporta] or anyone from the board.

“I don’t know when the moment will arrive but, for me, it would be a dream to return to Barca one day. I’m in no rush, honestly, but I hope it happens.”

Xavi, who spent 24 years at Barca as a player after joining the academy in 1991, also defended himself against critics who have suggested he doesn’t have the requisite experience for the top job at Camp Nou.

“I understand people may think I am not ready, but I want to make it clear that I am,” he added.

“I know the club, the environment… I am coaching at a professional level, not kids, and I feel prepared. People also criticised [Pep] Guardiola and [Zinedine] Zidane before they took charge at Barca and [Real] Madrid.

“But Koeman’s the coach now and you have to respect that. I don’t want there to be a permanent debate about that.”

Xavi, who twice turned down the Barca job under the previous board because the “moment wasn’t right,” also said he would welcome the chance to coach former teammates, such as Messi, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets.

“For me, it would be an advantage [to work with them],” he said. “I’m in a situation at Al Sadd where I am coaching players I played with and I think it helps, because you know them.

“What coach wouldn’t want to train Messi? Who wouldn’t want a joker up their sleeve like Leo, who can make the difference in 0.1 seconds? Physically he is still in good shape. He is still the best. It would be a huge privilege to coach Messi.”

Xavi said he’s open to all proposals and would welcome the chance to work in the Premier League if an “attractive” offer arrived, but slammed the door on the possibility of coaching Barca’s B team.