Barcelona coach Xavi has revealed his confusion towards the team’s rapid decline in the six years since he left as a player in the summer of 2015.
Xavi won a treble in his final season at Barcelona and had been part of two other Champions League triumphs in the previous six years, with the 2011 version of the team widely regarded as one of the best of all time.
Fast forward to 2021 and Barcelona are in a real rut. They have struggled to compete for a good few years now and are treading water in seventh in La Liga, having also been knocked out of the Champions League at the group stage for the first time in over 20 years.
“I do not know [what happened to the team],” Xavi said (via AS) after his side’s 3-2 win over Elche on Saturday. “I’ve been gone for six years and there are surprising things tactically, positionally…”
Defensively, Barcelona were all over the place, but they were bailed out in attack by the young trio of Gavi, Nico Gonzalez and Ferran Jutgla. The boss was full of praise for Gavi, but he stopped short of challenging his veterans to step up.
“I am not sending a message to the senior players,” he continued. “The work they do is spectacular. What is surprising is that the youngsters pass and score goals, but that is not a criticism of others.
“We have to go back to the game model. We’ve lost it and it surprises me a lot. The future of the club is figuring that out.”
On Frenkie de Jong, who was substituted after another tricky performance while Barcelona were in search of a goal, Xavi added: “He has given us things, but he wasn’t as fluid as Gavi and Nico. He is still making a spectacular effort.
“He was impressive defensively, with his recovery of second balls. His best work goes unrecognised. But it’s also a matter of fatigue, he has played a lot and that takes its toll.”