Xavi is the "best coach in the world", according to Barcelona president Joan Laporta.

A product of La Masia, Barca's famous academy, Xavi won LaLiga eight times and the Champions League on four occasions with the Blaugrana in a playing career that coincided with one of the most successful periods in the club's history.

However, financial troubles have plagued Barca in recent times, and they have failed to match the glory days under Pep Guardiola.

Xavi returned to Barca as head coach in 2021 following Ronald Koeman's sacking, and despite an early Champions League exit, the former midfielder led the team to the LaLiga summit heading into the World Cup break.

The 42-year-old has outlined the need to deliver silverware at Camp Nou this season, and Laporta is encouraged.

Laporta believes Xavi is the best coach out there, and says the 42-year-old's emotional attachment with the club is helping him to bring success back to Camp Nou.

"I say we need to win titles this season. I totally agree with Xavi," Laporta told Barca TV.

"I am very lucky to have the best coach in the world, because Xavi, in addition to his great football knowledge, is a man who is always very interesting to listen to with his reasoning, who is also a club man and is very aligned with the club.

"We share moments together, and also we share much of everything that is being done, and I feel very accompanied and supported with Xavi and all his staff.

"They are people in whom we all have full confidence in their knowledge but also in their sense of the club, which is very important, very important."

Xavi's former midfield partner Sergio Busquets is still in the playing squad at Camp Nou, although he is out of contract at the end of the season.

The recently retired Spain international has been linked with Inter Miami, who are also potential suitors for Lionel Messi, but Laporta says Barca are keen to keep him.

"Xavi counts on [Busquets], and he wants him to continue," the president added. "In other words, what we want is that, if possible, he continues.

"There are reports now in the winter market that he had offers from MLS and others.  

"Obviously, whatever Busquets decides is well decided, and the club will always be with him with what he needs and helping with what he needs. When the contract ends, then it will end.

"I don't know if he will decide this winter or continue until the end of the season. We want him to continue until the end of the season because Xavi has let me know [he still wants him].

"Busquets is also one of those that Barca is his home."

Barcelona's interest in Lionel Messi back to the club is "obvious", president Joan Laporta has said.

Barca brought Messi to Europe as a youngster, and he entrenched himself as a Blaugrana legend becoming the club's all-time leading scorer and winning seven Ballons d'Or while at Camp Nou.

Messi also helped Barca win 10 LaLiga titles and four Champions League trophies during his time in Catalonia, in what was one of the club's most successful periods.

However, financial troubles meant the LaLiga giants did not renew Messi's contract when it expired in 2021, and Paris Saint-Germain swooped to bring him to the French capital on a two-year deal.

The 35-year-old lifted the World Cup with Argentina for the first time last weekend, and his impressive displays in Qatar earned him a second Golden Ball, the first man to ever achieve that feat.

With Messi showing he can still perform at the very top level, there is discussion over his future with his PSG contract coming to an end in June 2023.

 

PSG reportedly have a verbal agreement in place to extend his contract, but Laporta did not hide his desire to bring the forward back to the club, though he was keen to temper fans' excitement with financial issues still looming.

"It is obvious that I would like him to return one day," Laporta told BarcaTV. "I would love to, but we cannot generate expectations.

"He is a PSG player, who has a contract with them.

"What I don't want is to create expectations that have great difficulty. The [financial] levers were made to save the club because it was in a very difficult situation.

"We would like very much that he came back, but it is something that [we will have to see]."

Messi's World Cup win has seen him instilled as the favourite to win an eighth Ballon d'Or in 2023.

Laporta is one of many who believe Messi is the greatest player in football history, explaining: "For us, he is the best of all time.

"We have had him here and he has become a player here. He will always be linked to Barca."

A Messi return would see him play under a former team-mate in Xavi, who watched his team bounce back from a group-stage Champions League exit to head into the World Cup break top of LaLiga, two points above rivals Real Madrid.

Winning LaLiga this season would show Barcelona's "recovery process is on the right track", according to president Joan Laporta.

Barca have suffered from poor finances and disappointing performances on the pitch in recent years.

They last won the league title in the 2018-19 campaign, while a group-stage exit in this season's Champions League means their seven-year wait to claim Europe's top club prize for a sixth time goes on.

Barca are, however, enjoying a domestic resurgence under Xavi, who returned as coach after a legendary playing career with the club.

Xavi is Barca's eighth head coach since Pep Guardiola left in 2012 and his team led LaLiga heading into the World Cup break.

"The priority objective is LaLiga," Laporta told reporters. "Clear and low.

"The dressing room, with Xavi at the helm, is clear about it.

"We want to win LaLiga to show that the club's recovery process is on the right track."

It appears it will be a two-horse race for the title with Real Madrid, who are two points behind Barca but came out victorious when the sides met at the Santiago Bernabeu in October.

Barca will get their league campaign back underway against city rivals Espanyol on December 31.

Barcelona coach Xavi says midfield duo Gavi and Pedri are better than he and fellow Blaugrana legend Andres Iniesta were at 20 years of age.

Gavi and Pedri each started all four of Spain's games at the World Cup in Qatar, having also assumed key roles for LaLiga leaders Barca since Xavi took charge last year.  

The duo's incisive passing and telepathic relationship has attracted comparisons to Xavi's own partnership with Iniesta, with that pair experiencing remarkable success at club and international level.

However, when speaking to Barca's media channels on Tuesday, Xavi said the Blaugrana's current midfield duo had developed quicker than their illustrious predecessors.

"Me at 20 years old and Andres at 20 years old were not at the level of Pedri or Gavi," Xavi said. "How Gavi competes, the passion he puts in... we were not at his level.

"We have very young players. Eric [Garcia], Pedri, Ansu [Fati], Gavi... Frenkie [de Jong] is young. We have Barca for the present and for the future."

Xavi did concede the demands on some of Barca's young players may be too great, adding: "Gavi has played practically everything. Ansu is a talent, but perhaps we are asking too much of them."

Barca are two points clear of rivals Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga, winning 12 of their 14 games this season after investing heavily in the transfer window.

The Catalan giants put together big-money moves for the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Jules Kounde and Raphinha in the off-season, but Xavi does not expect a repeat in January.

"I told [director of football] Mateu [Alemany] not to play too much, that I'm happy with the family, it's a fantastic group," Xavi said. "We don't know if we'll be able to incorporate new players.

"I think we can be competitive. I'm happy with the leaders, we train at 100 per cent and it shows on the field. If we don't touch anything, I'll be very happy."

Xavi and Joan Laporta paid tribute to Lionel Messi following his long-awaited World Cup triumph, the latter stating "historical justice has been done."

The former Barcelona star led Argentina to glory in Qatar as La Albiceleste defeated reigning champions France 4-2 on penalties following an enthralling 3-3 draw at Lusail Stadium.

The seven-time Ballon d'Or winner finally added the sport's biggest prize to his collection following a glittering career that has also seen him win 11 league titles, four Champions Leagues, three Club World Cups and the Copa America.

And the Paris Saint-Germain forward's achievements were by saluted by Barca head coach Xavi with his former team-mate also empathising with Ousmane Dembele and Jules Kounde, who were on the losing French side.

"It was an extraordinary final for the spectator, one of the best matches I've seen in my life," he said at the premiere of a new Prime Video docuseries entitled 'FC Barcelona, A New Era.'

"I think Argentina were better and deserved it. I feel sorry for Dembele and Kounde. But we must congratulate Leo Messi, who now has his World Cup, something that could not be missing in his career."

Blaugrana president Laporta added: "He deserves it, he is the best of all time, historical justice has been done.

"We would have been happy if our Kounde and Dembele won it, but I think all of us who love and are grateful to Messi for what he has given us are happy for him."

Xavi paid tribute to Sergio Busquets following his decision to retire from international football, describing him as one of the greatest midfielders in history.

Busquets announced his retirement from Spain duty on Friday having captained La Roja in each of their four games at the World Cup in Qatar.

Busquets' miss in a penalty shoot-out defeat to Morocco in the last 16 provided a less-than-fitting end to his stellar career with Spain, for whom he made 143 senior appearances.

The 34-year-old starred alongside his Barcelona team-mate-turned-coach Xavi as Spain won the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, and the Blaugrana boss believes few can match his impact.

"In the end, it's a personal decision that you make when you feel the time is right," Xavi told Barcelona's website. "I wish him the best, now he will be able to rest more and focus on Barca.

"He is a player who has made history. He is one of the best midfielders that football has produced worldwide and, for sure, the best defensive midfielder in the history of Spain."

Fellow Barcelona star Jordi Alba said Busquets will be "sorely missed" by Spain, who will be led by Luis de la Fuente in Euro 2024 qualifying after Luis Enrique left his role as head coach. 

"You have always been a great leader for all of us who are part of the team, both in good times and in bad," Alba wrote on Twitter.

"After so many training sessions and games together in the national team, today you say goodbye and you will be sorely missed, friend. 

"Thank you for what you have contributed to us and for everything you have given."

Barcelona boss Xavi has revealed he was offered a role as part of Brazil's backroom team ahead of the World Cup, but turned it down to hold out for the top job with the Blaugrana.

The former Spain international succeeded Ronald Koeman last year in charge at Camp Nou, and has helped to revive fortunes at the Catalan side since his arrival.

Though his team have slipped into the Europa League for a second season running, they remain competitive in the domestic top-flight, sitting two points ahead of rivals Real Madrid at the World Cup break.

Xavi has revealed he was approached by Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) president Rogerio Caboclo over a role with the Selecao during his time in charge at Al Sadd, but that he turned them down to hold out for Barca.

"It was an opportunity [that came] through the president of the CBF," Xavi told ESPN. 

"They [came] to Qatar, and they talked to me, [and asked if] I could be part of Tite's staff.

"But I wanted to be a coach, not an assistant. My desire was to be a coach.

"It would be a tremendous opportunity - it was [a chance] to make history, to be the first European to work in the Brazilian national team.

"But, at that moment, it did not happen. I was clear that I wanted to be coach of Barcelona, ​​which was my dream, and here I am."

However, Xavi teased he would not rule out taking up the chance if it was offered again, adding: "You never know. It would be a spectacular opportunity.

"But my intention was to take over Barcelona. You never know about the future [though]. I'm working hard, and you can't rule anything out."

Argentina can recover from their woeful World Cup start and reach the knockout rounds, says Barcelona boss Xavi.

Lionel Scaloni's side were handed a shock defeat in Group C by Saudi Arabia in their opener, with Lionel Messi's first-half penalty cancelled out by goals from Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari.

With Mexico and Poland drawing their first match elsewhere, it has handed La Albiceleste an arduous, though not improbable, pathway beyond the opening stages of Qatar 2022.

But speaking for Adidas in Qatar, Xavi, who was a member of the Spain squad that lost their opener at South Africa 2010 before rallying to win the tournament, believes they have what it takes to turn matters around.

"I know [how it feels], because it happened to us in 2010 in South Africa," he stated, in reference to his own defeat a dozen years ago to Switzerland. "It is a very difficult moment.

"[There is] more tension, more pressure, but I think they have everything. They have the capacity to come back, to win against Mexico and beat Poland.

"I believe a lot in Leo, in the Argentina squad, in Scaloni. They have the capacity to get six points and qualify for the next round, sure."

Argentina will be bidding to avoid a first group stage exit since Korea/Japan 2002, the only time they have failed to reach the knockout rounds in the expanded 32-team format era.

They face Mexico on Saturday in Lusail, before wrapping up their Group C campaign against Poland in Doha on November 30.

Barcelona head coach Xavi wants to sign Brazilian teenager Endrick, revealing he has held talks with the player and his father.

The 16-year-old Palmeiras forward is widely considered to be one of the finest prospects in South American football, drawing the attention of some of Europe's biggest sides.

Endrick's father will reportedly travel to Spain to tour Real Madrid's facilities later this month, but a fight is expected for his services, with Barcelona's own interest now being confirmed.

"We've been talking to his father and also directly to the player. I explained the project we have in Barcelona," Xavi told ESPN.

"We want talent and he's a talent, able to make a difference. He can score goals, he can dribble, he's got a brutal ability to make a difference.

"He's the kind of player we need. He already knows the project we have in Barcelona and we are talking.

"I hope he becomes our player. It's up to him. It always depends on the player. Usually, a player will end up playing where he wants to play. So, it's a very personal decision of Endrick."

While Endrick's future lies away from South America, any club looking to sign him will not be able to move him to Europe until he is 18 due to FIFA regulations.

Frenkie de Jong blames Barcelona's hierarchy, rather than head coach Xavi, for the uncertainty which has surrounded his Camp Nou future in recent months.

De Jong – who is set to make his World Cup debut when the Netherlands face Senegal in their Group A opener on Monday – was strongly linked with a move to Manchester United in the last transfer window.

Despite the midfielder repeatedly stating his preference to stay put, Barca reportedly viewed him as the club's most saleable asset as they looked to fund big-money moves for Robert Lewandowski, Jules Kounde and Raphinha.

With Xavi making a series of vague statements on De Jong's future at the time, the Netherlands international believes the Barca boss was put in an uncomfortable position by those above him.

Asked whether Joan Laporta's administration was responsible for the transfer saga, De Jong told De Telegraaf: "I blame these people, but I have nothing to do with them.

"Yes, for me they are Barca because they run it. I don't see them when I'm at the club during my daily routine.

"Xavi, it's true that he left the door open to the possibility of me leaving because he never said 'Frenkie stays'. But I don't blame Xavi. 

"I never had the feeling that Xavi was against me, and I think it was difficult for him to talk about all this."

Despite reports suggesting Barca were willing to let him leave, De Jong has continued to play a central role for the Blaugrana this season, making 17 appearances for Xavi's team in all competitions.

De Jong revealed he is targeting an extended stay at the club he joined from Ajax in 2019, adding: "I am very happy in Barcelona. 

"When I play it is great and in terms of living here life is perfect. I see myself at Barca. Personally, I see myself here eight or 10 more years."

Robert Lewandowski expected Barcelona "would not win everything" in his first season as he called for patience with the rebuild at Camp Nou.

Xavi's side head into the World Cup break two points clear of Real Madrid at the LaLiga summit but crashed out of the Champions League in the group stages for the second season in a row.

Having brought in the likes of Lewandowski, Raphinha and Jules Kounde alongside a host of high-profile free transfers, their European failures have placed some scrutiny on Blaugrana coach Xavi.

But Lewandowski suggested it was always going to take time for Barca to regain their Spanish and European dominance, owing to the transformative period the Blaugrana are going through.

"I knew that in my first season at Barcelona, we were not going to win everything," he told Marca. "This team is still being rebuilt, and it needs time, this is part of the process.

"We should be playing the next round of the Champions League, but we have learnt a lot, especially because we have a lot of young players.

"We made a few mistakes and at this level, you must always be ready. It doesn't matter how you do it, you need to learn how to win."

Despite falling out of the Champions League, Lewandowski says the marked improvements with Xavi's side are already noticeable.

"I think that even in a few months, you can see the progress we've made at Barcelona," he continued. "At the beginning of next year, we can show our better performances, and we can grow up as a team.

"Even next season will be much better, and we'll have more stability. In football, you can win a lot in a short amount of time. We've had a lot of injuries and as a result we lost a lot of stability. 

"In that sense, we haven't had much luck. In just a few weeks we lost a lot of players. Then, when you consider we also had to play a new system with a new set of players, it made things even more difficult.

"But now we've learnt from this and now we can move forward."

The 33-year-old scored 50 goals across all competitions last season, the most across Europe's top five leagues, as Bayern Munich lifted their 10th Bundesliga title in a row.

Lewandowski also broke Gerd Muller's long-standing Bundesliga record by scoring 41 goals in a single season in the 2020-21 campaign, while his 43 league goals in 2021 serve as the record for a calendar year in Germany's top tier.

Having accumulated 344 goals and 57 assists across 375 appearances in all competitions for Bayern, Lewandowski says he left Julian Nagelsmann's side as he needed a new challenge.

"It was a very tough decision but I knew it was the right moment for me to leave. At Bayern, I had everything under control and I was in my comfort zone," he added. 

"But, in my head, I knew it was my team to leave, I wanted to play a long career and continue to be happy.

"When I started to talk to Barca, I knew for my personal and footballing life, the best decision was to move to Barcelona to play in LaLiga. It was always my dream to play in La Liga.

"Also, I didn't want to play my entire life just in one league and that was another reason, even after I won everything at Bayern.

"I will always be proud and grateful for that, but my head was clear, and I wanted to move on to Barcelona. I have a new happiness now."

Xavi has revealed he was planning to call on Gerard Pique from the bench, had the retiring defender not seen red at half-time in Barcelona's clash with Osasuna.

Pique's glittering career ended on a low note on Tuesday, with the 35-year-old receiving his marching orders from referee Jesus Gil Manzano without even leaving the bench.

With Barca 1-0 down and a man down at half-time, having seen star striker Robert Lewandowski sent off, substitute Pique was shown a red card for dissent during the interval.

After an emotional send-off at Camp Nou at the weekend, an eighth LaLiga dismissal brought an end to his career.

Xavi was hoping to rely on his former team-mate, but instead had to struggle through with a makeshift backline after Andreas Christensen went off midway through the second half, with youngster Chadi Riad coming on as a late substitute.

"I was going to use Gerard," Xavi said at his post-match press conference. 

"We knew that Chad was going to come in, Andreas was struggling with an injury. Eric [García] had some discomfort in the warm-up, and we were forced to not have him start. 

"We did think about bringing in Gerard, but he was sent off at half-time when things got tense."

Even with their defensive issues and numerical disadvantage, Barca came away with a 2-1 win that saw them move five points clear of Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga, with Raphinha netting a late winner.

"We felt that wasn’t just, we felt they were against us and that’s why we reacted so strongly," Xavi said. 

"We celebrated this win as if everything was against us. The goal we conceded was a foul, then Lewandowski was sent off.

"All the decisions by the referee went against us and we thought we grabbed a win in a game we might tie."

Barcelona coach Xavi said he was proud of his team for overcoming several "unfair" decisions after they recovered from Robert Lewandowski's red card to clinch a dramatic 2-1 win at Osasuna.

Things looked bleak for Barca when they went into half-time a goal and a man down at El Sadar, with David Garcia heading Osasuna into the lead amid a potential foul on Marcos Alonso, before Lewandowski picked up a second booking for a poor challenge on the goalscorer.

Things went from bad to worse at the break as Gerard Pique – who was named on the bench for his final match before retirement – received a red card for dissent without even entering the fray.

However, goals from Pedri and Raphinha saw Barca stage a stirring second-half comeback to go five points clear of Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga, leaving Xavi ecstatic.

Asked what he told his players at the break to spark the turnaround, Xavi said: "To have faith that with 10 we could dominate the match, we had to be intelligent, and our moments would come.

"It's a very good victory, one of courage, of family, and it was celebrated a lot in the locker room. It was very complicated to play with 10 and I am very proud of the team.

"We have grown. We are a family, a group, a spectacular dressing room, with the desire to win, and it shows. I am proud."

Reflecting on the display of referee Jesus Gil Manzano, Xavi said his team had been hampered by numerous poor decisions.

"We feel harmed," he said. "The first goal was not even a corner, then there was a foul and then Robert was expelled. They were very unfair decisions, but the referee decides and we can't do anything."

Raphinha's winner – a well-executed header from Frenkie de Jong's lofted pass – was the eighth goal scored by a Barcelona substitute in LaLiga this term, more than any other team.

Meanwhile, the Blaugrana's tally of 37 points after 14 games is their joint-third highest at this stage of a season in LaLiga (after claiming 40 points in 2012-13 and 2013-14), and Raphinha believes they have the fight required for a title race.

"I had to think fast," the Brazil winger said of his goal. "The goalkeeper thought I was going to control the ball and that's why he came towards me, but I knew he was going to do that.

"We knew it was going to be very difficult, and it was. It was complicated by the expulsion of Lewandowski and from then on, we knew we would have few chances to get the result.

"The game was very difficult, but if we want to win LaLiga, we have to win these games and, like today, we also have to know how to suffer."

Raphinha fired 10-man Barcelona to a dramatic 2-1 win at Osasuna in LaLiga, as the Blaugrana recovered from Robert Lewandowski's first-half dismissal to go five points clear at the summit.

Barca fell behind to David Garcia's early header on Tuesday and were a man down when Lewandowski picked up a second booking for a reckless foul on the goalscorer.  

Unused substitute Gerard Pique ended his Blaugrana career with a whimper when he also saw red for berating the officials at the break, but Xavi's men hit back in the second half, first through Pedri.

Despite Osasuna looking the more likely victors late on, Raphinha came off the bench to nod in five minutes from time, snatching a crucial victory in Barca's final game before the World Cup.

Barcelona boss Xavi says "not much is going to change" following Gerard Pique's retirement, with the Blaugrana squad prepared to play their part in filling the void left behind by the defender.

The veteran centre-back abruptly announced his retirement from the professional game last week, before bowing out on a winning note with a 2-0 victory in LaLiga over Almeria.

Pique departed in the 84th minute to a standing ovation, bringing the curtain down on a near-decade-and-a-half stay with the club, where he originally began as a junior before moving to Manchester United.

Asked how Barca intended to alter their side following his exit, Xavi was adamant there would be little difference within the team, noting they will pull together to counter his absence.

"Not much is going to change," he stated. "Everyone has their leading role in the team.

"We're going to miss Gerard but [the departure of long-term players] has always happened. When somebody has left, the rest have been relocated."

Elsewhere, Xavi further touched on the form of Raphinha and Ousmane Dembele, two wingers with contrasting fortunes this term at Camp Nou.

The Brazilian, signed from Leeds United ahead of the campaign, has yielded only one goal in a dozen LaLiga appearances, while the Frenchman looks to have rediscovered his form with four in 13 top-flight games, along with five assists.

On Raphinha, Xavi added: "He has total confidence on our part. Sometimes things don't turn out the way you want, but you have to keep working. We believe in him a lot, and I'm sure the goals will come.

"As for Dembele, he's making a difference. His numbers have changed. He is being important, and he is feeling that way too.

"He is happy, and he has grown a lot. He lacks consistency, but because of his talent and skill, he has everything to be the best in the world."

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