“The renewal? From zero to 10, it’s 10,” Barcelona head coach Xavi said on August 18 before his side’s first home game of the new season against Cadiz, when asked what stage his new contract was at.
More than a month on, Xavi’s renewal has finally been announced. According to sources, speaking on condition of anonymity to protect relationships, he is set to double his €4m a year salary and his backroom staff have been given significant payrises too.
The two sides had long since reached an agreement, but it has taken a while to reach this point. And the length of the new contract — a one-year extension until the summer of 2025 — tells its own story.
Last season’s La Liga title — the club’s first since 2019, when Lionel Messi was still their main man — was pivotal in securing Xavi’s renewal. The new sporting director, their former Portugal international midfielder Deco, was asked about the situation at his official presentation last week.
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“We are happy, not only for the figure, but also for the coach,” Deco said. “He didn’t earn the renewal because he is Xavi, he earned it because he did a great job. What he wants is that he stays for many years and so does he.”
Xavi made 767 appearances during a 17-year playing career at Barcelona, helping win eight Spanish titles, four Champions Leagues and being recognised as one of the greatest midfielders of the modern game, but his return to Camp Nou as manager in November 2021 coincided with one of the most turbulent periods in the club’s history.
Messi’s departure to Paris Saint-Germain on a dramatic free transfer three months earlier had left the Catalans traumatised, they were all but out of the Champions League in the group stage and had dropped too many points to compete for that season’s La Liga crown.
Ronald Koeman was sacked at the end of the October after a defeat to Rayo Vallecano left Barca ninth in the table, and a week later Xavi’s signing until 2024 was announced.
The legendary former midfielder had been proposed for the job by unsuccessful presidential candidate Victor Font at the beginning of 2021, so his return after four years playing for Qatari side Al Sadd and then two more as their coach had been on the cards for some time.
Xavi’s Barca did not win any trophies in that first season, were indeed eliminated from the Champions League before the knockout phase and got embarrassed 3-2 at home in the Europa League quarter-finals by that competition’s eventual winners Eintracht Frankfurt. But they bounced back in style during his first full campaign after a transformative summer transfer window, beating Real Madrid 3-1 in the Supercopa final in January, then winning the title in May at the home of city rivals Espanyol, finishing 10 points clear of their old foes from the Bernabeu.
The details of this new contract were worked out with departing sporting director Mateu Alemany, although it was Deco who signed it. Xavi had agreed a two-year extension to 2026, but that was never a realistic option given the club’s still-precarious financial situation.
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Barcelona think the one-year renewal will have less of an impact on financial fair play and possibly allow them to make more signings in the next two transfer windows. It means more money for Xavi and his assistants, who arrived on a low, for the size of the club, salary two years ago of around €4million (£3.5m/$4.3m at today’s exchange rates).
This deal allows the club to be financially prudent, while Xavi is in favour of short contracts — just like his former Barca manager and now Manchester City counterpart Pep Guardiola.
“Xavi doesn’t want to be a mortgage for the club, in case things don’t go well,” a source close to the coach, who will remain anonymous to protect relationships, told The Athletic.
The length of the contract, then, was never a point of contention between Xavi and the club. But one of the last details negotiated in the weeks up to the actual signing of the new deal was an automatic extension until 2026 if his team win more titles.
That convinced the board, who fully recognise Xavi’s work in guiding Barca to a deserved Spanish championship but are concerned about the side’s performances in Europe and their playing style.
The squad was revamped this summer with the aim of being more competitive at European level, after being knocked out of the Champions League at the end of the group stage two years in a row and then failing to impress when their third-place finishes saw them parachuted into the Europa League’s knockout phase.
“It’s not going to be a contract to win the Champions League, but it’s clear that it’s one of the objectives,” Deco said at his presentation. “We want to win it again.”
There were more urgent matters for Barca to attend to before putting the finishing touches on this renewal, where both parties understood each other from the beginning.
After many months of negotiations, Xavi is set to continue in the dugout for this season and the next.
Time will tell if his time as Barca coach is longer than that — or shorter.
(Top photo: Alex Caparros/Getty Images)