On Monday, Barcelona unveiled Xavi as the club’s new manager at the Camp Nou, and the new boss held a news conference thereafter.
Xavi discussed his approach, what it would be like to manage former teammates, his thoughts on Ousmane Dembele, and how he passed down the opportunity to coach in Brazil.
Here are the highlights:
Xavi on how to fix Barca.
It’s important that we put rules in place and be more demanding with ourselves. Then we can talk about values, about respect, and attitude, because if we don’t have values, we don’t have a team. Then we can look at the model, how we play, how we attack, how we defend.
Xavi on playing style
The idea is the same as Cruyff’s. My first defender is the striker, and my first attacker is the goalkeeper. We have to work tactically, press high and dominate the ball. It’s not about being tough but having rules. I will try to help the players, personally and professionally. I know how taxing it is psychologically to play for this club.
Xavi on turning down Brazil
There was an approach from Brazil, but returning to Barcelona was my dream.
Xavi on signings
Well, I only landed a couple of days ago, we have to talk to the president about many things. One of those is the winter transfer market. We have some top-level wingers that are good one-to-one. Let’s see how Ansu evolves. But yes, I want to play with open wingers, playing wide and that can play in a one-to-one situation.
Xavi on Barca’s injuries
It’s worrying. We have to see what the problem is and find solutions. It’s a task for the medical department. We have an idea, but we must speak with the president. We have to get players back.
On Lionel Messi
I am of course a great friend with Messi. He texted me and wished me the best of luck. I also sent him the best. He’s the best player in football’s history but he’s not here. We have other players who have to make a difference on the field, we can’t think about the players who are not here.
Xavi on Ousmane Dembele
That’s a priority [Dembele’s new contract]. Coached well, Dembele, in his position, can be the best player in the world. He has all the qualities to be a superstar. But he has to work a lot, we have to demand a lot from him. He has to be happy but he has great footballing conditions to make a difference at Barca. It’s important to have a winning mentality and also to have consistency.
Xavi on coaching ex-team-mates
For me, it’s an advantage to have the relationship I have with Gerard, Busquets, Jordi Alba, Sergi, and Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Everyone starts from zero, but the players that I know are the ones I will push the hardest. I want them to be the leaders.