The rumours began a couple of weeks ago but reports today in the Barcelona media suggest that the legend who we all know as Xavi Hernández has made up his mind to leave Barça this summer in order to join the Qatari team Al Arabi. It seems likely that Xavi will announce the decision on his return to Barcelona after Spain have played their final World Cup match against Australia.
If the story is true then Xavi will join Valdés, Puyol and Fabregas on the way out which certainly makes the sense of an end of an era stronger. Xavi’s contribution to the club has been enormous since he made his debut at the age of 18 under Louis van Gaal back in 1998. Since then he has played more games (a total of 723) and won more trophies (22) than any other player in the club’s history, while he has also won everything at international level with Spain who he has represented on an incredible 133 occasions. His consistency in Barça’s midfield earned him the nickname of ‘the machine’ and Maqui‘s style of play could be said to be more responsible than any other player for the term Tiki-Taka being invented.
Xavi will obviously be missed greatly and there is no doubt that he could still have done a job for Barça for at least another season. Nevertheless, however much it hurts to admit, Xavi at 34 is on the decline, and perhaps it is better for him to drop a level to a team where he can play regularly. If he stays at Barça he will almost certainly be asked to play less frequently and he will also face the pressure of being asked to reproduce the performances of previous seasons which he might ultimately find frustrating if his body cannot respond to the challenge. It is a shame that he has chosen Qatar as his destination as he could certainly have still offered a great deal in one of the top European leagues even if that were at a smaller club.