FC Barcelona is making plans to extend the contract of their current first-team manager and former player, Xavi Hernandez. As the team holds a nine-point lead at the top of the La Liga table, sporting director Mateu Alemany has confirmed that they will discuss the manager's contract at the end of the season.
Xavi became known as a midfielder during his playing career, where he spent most of his time at Barcelona and won several titles in the highly respected Pep Guardiola era. He also made an impression on the international stage with Spain, winning the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and consecutive European Championships in 2008 and 2012.
After retiring as a professional player in 2019, Xavi took over as the manager of Qatari team Al-Sadd, where he played his final year. He then became the manager of a struggling Barcelona side midway through the 2021-22 season, and in his first few months, he took the team from a dismal ninth place to second in La Liga.
Now, halfway through his first full season, Barcelona has a nine-point lead at the top of the league table and is in the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey, leading 1-0 against Real Madrid after the first leg. Club president Joan Laporta has acknowledged Xavi's impact at the club.
Xavi's current contract with Barcelona runs until the summer of 2024, but the club is interested in extending it until at least 2026. Sporting director Mateu Alemany confirmed the club's intentions but stated that everyone wants to focus on winning their first league title since 2019 before discussing contract talks.
Alemany emphasized that the team is in a critical phase of the season, and intense focus is necessary, as a nine-point lead over Real Madrid in La Liga is not yet secure, and neither is the 1-0 advantage in the Copa del Rey's first leg.
Despite significant mishaps on the international stage, the Barcelona squad has gained confidence under Xavi, and the team has improved domestically in the past two seasons. However, they have crashed out of European competitions both times, dropping to the Europa League after failing to get out of the Champions League group stage.
Barcelona has faced significant financial challenges and scandals, including the Barcagate scandal in 2020, which resulted in the resignation of former president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his board, accusations of corruption, and a debt of over a billion euros. President Joan Laporta has taken steps to address these issues, including selling some of the club's assets to get within La Liga's salary cap limit and reducing salaries across the organization.
However, the Caso Negreira scandal erupted earlier this year, with the club being investigated over possible corruption related to payments made to a former La Liga technical official. The team has denied the accusations, and the league cannot impose sporting sanctions if none of the offenses took place within the last three years. Despite this, fans of opposing teams have taunted Barcelona with the possibility of relegation.