Barcelona dismissing Xavi after the head coach initially reversed his decision and seemed set to stay came as a shock to some, no more so than Blaugrana winger Lamine Yamal.

The LaLiga giants were expected to part ways with former midfielder Xavi at the end of the season, only for the Spaniard to change his mind and opt to fulfil his contract with the club.

Yet in another unexpected turn of events, Xavi was given his marching orders as Barca president Joan Laporta acted swiftly to bring in former Germany and Bayern Munich head coach Hansi Flick.

As Yamal prepares for the upcoming Euro 2024 tournament with Spain in Germany, the Barca forward admitted Xavi's sacking raised a few eyebrows.

"It was a very strange moment," the teenager told Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo. "At first he left, then he stayed...

"It was strange, because we saw the same thing that you saw too.

"[It was] very sad because for me he was the first coach in the elite that I've had, but these are things that happen in football."

Though Yamal remains surprised by the decision, the Spain attacker is "excited" to link-up with new boss Flick when the 2024-25 season comes around.

"The last thing I saw was when he was at Bayern, and also in the German national team," he added.

"They have a fairly offensive game, quite direct. I'm very excited."

Barcelona fell short in their LaLiga title defence as Real Madrid roared to the Spanish crown, as well as Champions League glory for the dominant Los Blancos.

Yet Yamal believes the Blaugrana can compete with any side on their day.

"We struggled this season, scoring a goal and adding another before going into the second half and suddenly having two goals scored against us," he continued.

"That's the only thing we have to improve, because I think we can compete with any team in the world."

Barcelona president Joan Laporta says his decision to dismiss Xavi came after doubts the Blaugrana head coach had lost faith in his squad.

The LaLiga giants were expected to part ways with former midfielder Xavi at the end of the season, only for the Spaniard to change his mind and opt to fulfill his contract with the club.

Yet in another unexpected turn of events, Xavi was given his marching orders – and chief Laporta claims the Barcelona boss had expressed concerns over the capabilities of his current players.

"If Xavi can change his mind, so can we," Laporta said in an interview with Barca One, the Blaugrana's in-house television channel.

"Everything was a bit forced when we decided to keep him on. Xavi is a club legend and his enthusiasm led us to the decision to ratify his position.

"At the time of his U-turn, I asked him: 'Do you believe in the team?' He told me 'Yes.' He said he had faith in this team.

"However, there were then comments in which he changed his discourse after conversations with [sporting director] Deco with respect to necessary changes to the squad.

"That forced me to reconsider the situation and I felt the squad needed a new impetus to be more competitive and get the best out of what we have.

"I have had to make these tough decisions with Barca legends. My heart told me he should stay on, but not my head.

"I hope [our] relationship can continue. I have been through it with [Ronald] Koeman, [Lionel] Messi, [Gerard] Pique, [Sergio] Busquets, [Jordi] Alba and now Xavi. All decisions are made for the good of Barca -- the club comes first."

In stark contrast, Laporta assured new head coach Hansi Flick – formerly of Bayern Munich and Germany's national side – backs Barcelona to succeed, with or without further investment.

"Flick feels capable of competing with this squad," the Barca president continued. "That was decisive."

"Flick's task is to win and he's accepted the challenge. The players must be well-prepared physically. The youngsters, the substitutes, players like [Robert] Lewandowski ... everyone has to be in good shape physically.

"The physical preparation is essential because, with that, and having the ball, we can win everything. This season we saw the team dip after the 60th minute physically. We didn't finish games as we wanted –in the two Clasicos, for example.

"I am not saying the team was not well prepared, but there are always things to improve. We need more."

Although adding to the playing squad was a contentious issue leading to Xavi's exit, Laporta expressed an interest in renewing the loans of Joao Cancelo and Joao Felix.

"We want the two Joaos to continue," he said. "The idea is that they are here for another year. Deco is working on it. Flick rates them highly and when he was at Bayern he was interested in signing Felix.

"Just as we don't need a big transfer out, we don't believe we need big signings. Maybe a midfielder, a winger, but we also have an academy which can help fill these positions.

"We can compete in Europe with a squad based on the academy. That's what Flick has conveyed to us and what we think.

"We have a squad that can compete in Spain and Europe with the chance of success."

Hansi Flick believes the philosophy and principles of Barcelona closely resemble his own and is excited to get started after succeeding Xavi at Camp Nou.

On Wednesday, Barca confirmed former Bayern Munich boss Flick had signed a two-year contract to take over as head coach following Xavi's surprise dismissal. 

Xavi had initially announced his departure in January, only for president Joan Laporta to convince him to conduct a U-turn and commit his future to the club. Amid reports of unrest behind the scenes, Barca then decided to part ways with the former midfielder.

Flick, who won two Bundesliga titles and the Champions League during a two-year spell with Bayern, is committed to conforming to Barca's traditions.

"It's a big honour and a dream for me to sign my contract here in Barcelona, with this amazing club," he told the club's media channels.

"The club is unbelievable. In the hours I was here in Barcelona, it has been amazing. Everyone loves the club and wants to have success.

"The philosophy they have for the club, it's similar to mine, with more possession and really attacking football. These are the things I love.

"Barcelona has one of the best academies in the world, a mix between some of the best players in the world and young, talented players. 

"I won some titles with Bayern Munich and my hunger for titles is really big. I would like to stay on this path with Barcelona and I think we can achieve a lot together."

Flick's Bayern side were known for their high-pressing, possession-based brand of football. 

Between his appointment in November 2019 and his exit in June 2021, they averaged the highest possession share in the Bundesliga (62.55 per cent) and won the ball in the final third 489 times, 172 clear of Borussia Dortmund, who were second by that metric (317).

They also led the way for wins (45), total shots (1,023) and goals (174) in that span, averaging exactly three goals per Bundesliga outing.

Barca will hope Flick's arrival gets more out of Robert Lewandowski, who set the Bundesliga's single-season goal record under him in 2020-21, netting 41 times in 29 matches.

Hansi Flick has been appointed the new head coach of Barcelona following the club's shock decision to sack Xavi.

A club announcement on Wednesday revealed Flick will take over ahead of next season after penning a two-year deal at Camp Nou.

Xavi initially announced in January he would leave Barca at the end of the season, but club president Joan Laporta managed to convince him to prolong his tenure.

However, just 30 days after that U-turn was announced, the club reversed its decision again, stating Xavi would be dismissed come the end of the campaign.

On Wednesday, the club formally announced Xavi's backroom staff would join him in departing, thanking the former midfielder for his "commitment, dedication and generosity" as well as his willingness to work towards a mutual termination of his contract. 

With Xavi out the door, former Bayern Munich boss Flick will take over ahead of next season, looking to improve on the Catalan giants' runners-up finish in LaLiga behind rivals Real Madrid and their quarter-final Champions League exit this term.

Flick's last role was with the national team of Germany, though he lasted just over two years in that job as they crashed out at the group stage of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The German football federation initially stuck with Flick after that tournament, only to dismiss him after three successive friendly defeats last year.

Flick enjoyed more success in his most recent club role, leading Bayern to two Bundesliga titles, as well as a treble that included the club's sixth Champions League crown during his maiden campaign in charge in 2019-2020.

Flick would retain the Bundesliga title the next season, as well as adding the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup trophies before taking over the Germany role from Joachim Low.

Flick finished his time at Bayern with a win percentage of 80 per cent over his 145 matches in charge.

After then winning just 12 of his 25 games at the helm of Germany, Flick will be hoping for a stark improvement during his new role in Spain.

Sacked Barcelona manager Xavi said he leaves the club disappointed after feeling his work was not appreciated enough as they finished the season with a 2-1 win at Sevilla on Sunday.

Xavi, 44, who joined Bara on a three-year deal when Dutchman Ronald Koeman left in 2021, led the Catalan giants to their 27th league title last season.

He compiled 90 wins, 23 draws and 29 defeats in 142 games in charge but was fired on Friday.

"I have the feeling that everything I have done in these two and a half years has caused an earthquake. I have been targeted many times in many situations," Xavi said.

"I think that the work has not been sufficiently appreciated. This year we haven't been up to the task because of details. We had four key games in which we couldn't finish the good work we had done," he added.

LaLiga runners-up Barcelona, who finished 10 poins behind Real Madrid, have endured a frustrating season, losing to Real in the Spanish Super Cup final, knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Athletic Bilbao in the quarter-finals and eliminated from the Champions League by Paris St Germain also in the last eight.

Xavi decided to step down in January but agreed to return in April after talks with president Joan Laporta, who later changed his mind and sacked him after a season without silverware.

"It is not for me to say the reasons or the motives. I think it is up to the president to say them. I had no choice but to accept it. It doesn't matter if I agree with the arguments.

"I'm not leaving with a sense of relief because we wanted to continue. These are decisions made by the club. We understood and respected that, but we thought it wasn't over," he added.

Xavi pointed out that while he did not agree with his departure, he accepted that the club was bigger, adding that the next coach's job would not be easy.

"He should know that he has a tough situation because Barca is a challenging club but on top of that it is in an adverse economic situation. It will not be an easy task," he said.

Xavi says he will leave Barcelona with "no regrets" and continue to follow their fortunes as a fan, after his impending departure from the club was confirmed.

The former midfielder revealed in January that he would be leaving Barca at the end of the season, but was convinced to remain in charge last month by club president Joan Laporta.

However on Friday - ahead of the Blaugrana's final match of the LaLiga season against Sevilla this weekend - the club confirmed Xavi would be departing after all.

The 44-year-old guided Barca to the LaLiga title last season in his first full campaign in charge, but they will finish at least 12 points adrift of champions Real Madrid in second place this time around.

It turned into a trophyless campaign for the Blaugrana, who bowed out of the Champions League and Copa del Rey at the quarter-final stage.

Xavi has won 89 of his 142 games (62.7 per cent) since taking charge in November 2021, while bringing through the likes of Gavi and Lamine Yamal, and says he will leave the club with his head held high.

"I have no regrets. I have tried to do my best. We have worked with a lot of love for this club. I'm a Barca fan for life," he told reporters at his pre-match press conference.

"These are complicated days, they have not been easy, but I'm fine. I have a clear conscience, I'm proud of myself and calm.

"It has not been an easy time because of the state of the club. I am happy because I have done a good job - we have won two titles, had more successes and won important matches.

"Laporta has told me why he thinks the club needs a change of direction and I accept it, he is the one who decides. I have no choice. I am a club man.

"I believed in the squad and that we could do interesting things, but it wasn't to be. I wish [Laporta] the best of luck and, from now on, I will be just another fan."

Hansi Flick, the former Bayern Munich and Germany coach, is expected to be confirmed as Xavi's replacement.
 

Pep Guardiola said "in our job, you have to win" when he was asked about Xavi's dismissal by Barcelona.

Barca confirmed on Friday that Xavi had been dismissed, and would not take charge of the club next season.

Xavi's final game in charge of the Blaugrana is set to come on Sunday, when Barca face Sevilla.

Barca's decision comes just 30 days after Xavi announced he had decided to stay on, having initially expressed his intention to leave back in January.

Xavi was a key player for Guardiola during his successful stint as Barcelona coach, and the Manchester City boss was asked about his old club's decision.

"What can I say? It's always not good news because something didn't work, one club sacking the manager. [The] reasons [for] what happened, I don't know," Guardiola said ahead of the FA Cup final against Manchester United.

"We spoke today at breakfast [about manager sackings]. Normally [managers] move a lot.

"In our job, you have to win otherwise you're in a dangerous position. No matter [if you're] new or old, you have to win, do a good job and be good with many things, otherwise it happens."

Sevilla coach Quique Sanchez Flores, who will leave his post after Sunday's meeting with Barca, was rather more scathing of the Blaugrana, however.

"I shouldn't say this, but how badly Barcelona treats its legends. What a bad streak," Flores said.

"With [Ronald] Koeman, with [Lionel] Messi, with Xavi now, how bad. I wish clubs treated their legends well. That would be fantastic.

"That is a legacy of connection from the managers to the fans. This connects a lot, treating legends well.

"Xavi is a legend of the club. He won the league last season and football has a short memory. He was questioned this year from the first minute. I have doubts that the criticism about him is correct.

"Xavi has experienced many things as a player and has done a good job as a coach. I'll give him a huge hug, we'll talk."

Barcelona are expected to appoint former Bayern Munich and Germany coach Hansi Flick as Xavi's successor.

Barcelona have confirmed the dismissal of head coach Xavi, just 30 days after he had revealed he would be staying on for next season.

Xavi said in January that he would be leaving Barca at the end of the season, yet he was convinced to remain in charge by club president Joan Laporta.

Barca have gone on to secure a second-place finish in LaLiga, yet on Friday, before their final match of the season against Sevilla on Sunday, it was confirmed Xavi would be leaving after all.

A statement released on the club's official website read: "The president, Joan Laporta, announced this afternoon to Xavi that he will not continue as coach of the first team in the 2024-25 season. 

"The meeting took place at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper and the sports vice-president, Rafa Yuste, and the sports director, Anderson Luis de Souza, Deco, as well as Xavi's assistants, Oscar Hernández and Sergio Alegre, were present.

"Barcelona would like to thank Xavi for his work as a coach, which adds to an unparalleled career as a player and captain of the team, and wishes him all the luck in the world."

Xavi has overseen 142 matches in charge of Barca, and led them to the title in 2022-23.

He has won 89 games in all competitions, giving him a win percentage of 62.7. 

Hansi Flick, the former Bayern Munich and Germany coach, is expected to be confirmed as Xavi's replacement.

During his time in charge, Xavi has helped blood young stars such as Gavi, Lamine Yamal and Fermin Lopez.

Barcelona forward Robert Lewandowski has suggested he will remain at the LaLiga club next season.

Lewandowski joined Barcelona from Bayern Munich in 2022 and has since helped them win the league title last season as well as the Spanish Super Cup.

The 35-year-old ended his debut season as the league's top scorer with 23 goals and has netted a further 18 in Barcelona's current trophy-less campaign.

Lewandowski's current contract is set to expire in 2026, but uncertainties about his future have grown since manager Xavi initially announced his departure in January, only to backtrack in April.

Barcelona are also dealing with economic challenges, with a bloated wage bill and a huge renovation project at the Camp Nou stadium having increased the financial strain this term.

"Of course, for me, it is super clear. I want to win many titles with Barcelona, and I am sure that next season we will be even stronger, and we will also win titles," Lewandowski told Mundo Deportivo on Wednesday when asked about rumours of a potential exit.

"I always want the best, not just for me, but for my team-mates, and I am sure that this team will win titles next season, because I see what we do each day.

"For me, that is what matters, because this is a club that I hold close to my heart and I want to give a lot for the team and the club."

Xavi said earlier in May, "We value Robert's presence in the team very much, and we will decide on his future at the end of the season."

Barcelona are second in LaLiga, 12 points behind newly crowned champions Real Madrid. They face Sevilla in their final game of the season on Sunday.

Xavi criticised some of the Barcelona fans for booing and negative chants towards club president Joan Laporta during their 3-0 win over Rayo Vallecano on Sunday.

Barcelona sealed second place in LaLiga with the victory, also guaranteeing a place in the Spanish Super Cup at the start of 2025.

However, speculation about Xavi’s future continues to dominate the headlines around the club, with reports suggesting the Spaniard could be sacked despite committing a U-turn to stay at the club after announcing his departure.

During the game, Xavi received a standing ovation, while some of the fans were heard opposing Laporta.

"On the one hand, I want to thank the people for being with me on a personal level," Xavi said. "But I don't like it when they point to a person, whether it's the president or a player. We need unity. It's a nasty situation that I don't like."

A meeting between Xavi and Laporta is reportedly set for the end of the season, and the manager has dismissed claims that he has a bad relationship with the president.

"We have enough trust so far and a friendly relationship to talk about it [his future]," Xavi said.

"I understand the whole mess, but I haven't been informed [about being fired]. The confidence hasn't changed, I think. If it changes, we will inform you.

"I continue with the maximum ambition, absolutely nothing has changed about mine. I want to start next season with the utmost enthusiasm.

"The president has always been honest, and I'm sure he will continue to be so when we see each other."

Paris Saint-Germain boss Luis Enrique is fully focused on what is going on in France, and not paying attention to the situation at Barcelona.

Reports this week suggested Barca may look to replace Xavi with PSG coach Luis Enrique, who led the Blaugrana to success during his stint in charge between 2014 and 2017.

However, the former Spain coach is not interested in any speculation.

Speaking ahead of PSG's trip to Metz on Sunday, he said: "I have already given my opinion on Ligue 1, which is much more competitive than I heard.

"It is clear that there is a high level, with many excellent players. I was pleasantly surprised by the level, including the physical aspect, the coaches and the players.

"I only look at what’s happening in France. I don't know [about Barcelona], I don't comment."

Kylian Mbappe, who is leaving the club at the end of the season, missed PSG's win over Nice in midweek due to a hamstring issue.

Bradley Barcola stepped up in Mbappe's absence, scoring and providing an assist in the 2-1 victory, and the 21-year-old has also been called up for France's Euro 2024 squad.

"Barcola can improve everywhere, like the rest of the players, but above all Bradley is a very young player," Luis Enrique said.

"One thing that I really like is that when you sign a youngster from another team, it's something that seems easy to accept such a challenge but it is very difficult.

"You must understand that the level to be a starter is higher. When a young player like Bradley accepts that and with the performances he has already achieved, I think it's nice to see him at the Euros.

"He deserves it. Next year, the challenge will be even bigger. Our goal for next season will be to look for other [signings], so they are in competition with those already present."

Luis Enrique also knows he will have to adapt to life without Mbappe, who seems destined to join Real Madrid.

"Without a doubt. One of the characteristics of a coach is to adapt," he said.

"We prepared for this group of players but now, with those we can sign and those we already have, there will be tactical changes to come with an undoubtedly more balanced team. There is still room for improvement, in defence and attack."

However, PSG will not limit themselves to signing younger players, but instead base their recruitment on the level of talent they are aiming to bring in.

"We don't sign players based on their age but on their talent," Luis Enrique added. "We sign talent!

"The transfer window will present us with different options and depending on what will be best for the team, we will try to strengthen ourselves. I also like the 30 or 35-year-old players who give a good level for the team. They are all young if you compare them to the coach."

Barcelona coach Xavi says he still has the club's trust, despite a steady stream of media reports president Joan Laporta may be minded to sack him.

"I understand the noise but that changes nothing," Xavi told reporters on Saturday after a training session ahead of his side's game against Rayo Vallecano.

The manager added that his focus was on winning the three points and "the team has an extraordinary base to compete."

"We'll sit down with the president and if we have to talk about anything, we'll do that," he said about rumours of Laporta's loss of confidence in him. 

"But everything is the same as it was three weeks ago. If there are any changes we'll let you know."

Despite being a club great and winning LaLiga last season, Xavi has been under pressure this campaign after Barcelona failed to catch Real Madrid, who have already secured the title.

In January, Xavi said he would resign at the end of this season, but last month he sat down with club officials and agreed to honour the last year of his contract until mid-2025 - with a series of unspecified conditions set by the club.

However, Xavi told reporters on Thursday that the club's situation is difficult, especially in economic terms, and it was tough to compete with the likes of Madrid, in comments that reportedly angered Laporta.

The club has a bloated wage bill, while a $1.6 billion euro ($1.7 billion) renovation project is also underway at the Camp Nou stadium.

Barcelona coach Xavi reached 100 league games in charge of the club with a 2-0 win over Almeria, and although being on the verge of a second-place finish in LaLiga, he made it clear that he wants to win championships.

Xavi, who last month reversed his decision to leave the club at the end of the season, said he is concentrating on the future with changes already in mind for the club.

"I have every ambition to win titles. The economic situation is not the best and we are working to reverse it. We are planning the next season and I see it as an opportunity," Xavi told a press conference.

"We are getting the games ready to play the Super Cup next year. I really want Barca to win titles again.

"This year we haven't competed well enough to win them, but we've come close. I'm eager, excited and ambitious."

Xavi spent 17 years at Barcelona, making 767 appearances and winning 25 trophies, including four Champions Leagues and eight LaLiga titles.

Despite being a club great and winning LaLiga last year as coach, he has come under pressure this season after failing to catch Real Madrid, who have already secured the title, and losing to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League quarter-finals.

There are also the challenges of a bloated wage bill and a 1.6 billion euro ($1.7 billion) renovation project at the Camp Nou stadium.

But Xavi is clear that the club will fight to change.

"It's not an easy or pleasant situation. We want to win titles and we haven't done our homework, but we have a very good squad and I am happy with the level of ambition of the players," he added.

"We tell the players the importance of finishing second, but I want to compete and fight for titles."

Fermin Lopez's brace sealed a 2-0 win over bottom side Almeria on Thursday, with Barca now four points clear of Girona in third, with two games to play.

"I'm happy to help the team with goals and for the win, which we needed. We're going to fight for second place until the end and we're on the right track," said Fermin.

Ronald Araujo’s Barcelona future is still undecided, but Xavi says he has "zero doubts" over the defender’s decision.

The Uruguayan has been offered a contract extension to keep him at the club beyond 2026, but Araujo is yet to sign it.

This season, he has made 36 appearances in all competitions for Barcelona, though he dropped to the bench for their win over Real Sociedad on Monday.

Asked about Araujo’s future on Wednesday, Xavi said: "I talk a lot with Araujo, and he knows what I think. There are zero doubts about his future on my side.

"He knows what I want for his future. I always try to speak honestly and sincerely and he’s happy here."

Reports suggest that Bayern Munich and Manchester United are interested in signing Araujo if he does decide to leave Barcelona.

Barcelona face a tough battle to secure a second-place finish in LaLiga but are pleased to have their fate in their own hands with three games remaining, says defender Inigo Martinez. 

Barca leapfrogged Girona into second with Monday's 2-0 home win over Real Sociedad, going one point clear of their Catalan rivals after they drew 2-2 with Alaves on Friday.

Lamine Yamal put Xavi's team ahead in the 40th minute when he coolly slotted home from Ilkay Gundogan's pass after a quick breakaway, then Raphinha's stoppage-time penalty made certain of the win.

The Blaugrana go to Almeria on Thursday before hosting Rayo Vallecano in their final home game of the season on Sunday. They then bring their campaign to a close at Sevilla on May 25.

"There is still a long way to go. It will be a battle to the end. Girona are very strong," Martinez told Movistar after Monday's game.

"It's in our hands now. I think the team is very good. It's three valuable points. We had some mistakes in the first half, but in the second half I think we could have finished it off earlier."

Teenage winger Yamal believes Xavi's side – who are some 14 points adrift of champions Real Madrid – may need maximum points to hold off Girona. 

"It was an important game to regain second place and we have to try to make it a nine-point week," the 16-year-old said.

"La Real did very well in the first half but then we were able to improve. There was a good feeling in the whole team."

Xavi, meanwhile, was pleased to see his team pass a difficult test, saying: "La Real always make it difficult for us. 

"They are always very organised, aggressive, you don't create danger for them. It's an important victory for us. We played a good game in general."

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