Barcelona Legend Xavi Poised to Begin Managerial Career in Qatar Next Season

?He had always seemed likely to follow the likes of Barcelona legends Pep Guardiola and Johan Cruyff into management, and it appears that 38-year old Spanish midfielder Xavi is set to begin a new career by taking over the reins as manager at Qatari club Al Sadd.

According to Spanish publication ?Marca, Xavi will sign a two year deal within the coming weeks, and is likely to replace current boss Jesualdo Ferreira in the summer.

Xavi’s time in Qatar as a player has been successful, having won three trophies with Al Sadd, and it seems as though the World Cup winner is happy to stay at the club and develop his skills as a manager for the foreseeable future.

??Although becoming a manager at some stage seems almost certain, there is still a chance that Xavi could continue in a playing capacity for a while longer if Al Sadd qualify for the Asian Champions League.

Managing director Turki Al-Ali said: “The club have come to the beginning of an agreement for Xavi to continue for two more season, although his role has not yet been determined. He could continue as a player or just as well in another role, it will be announced soon.”

In the long term, Xavi could well have one eye on taking charge of Qatar for the 2022 World Cup, and he was recently made global ambassador for the competition.

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Looking even further into the future Xavi would undoubtedly love to manage his beloved Barcelona, the team where he made 765 appearances and won eight La Liga titles. 

If he can prove to be anywhere near as good a manager as he was a player, we could very well see him on the touchline at the Nou Camp in the not-too-distant future.


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Man Utd Dealt Further Blow in Pursuit of Barcelona Defender After Ace Reaffirms Commitment to Club

?Manchester United appear to have been dealt a blow in their pursuit of Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti, after the star reaffirmed his commitment to the club in his post match comments following the win over Roma.

Speaking after his side’s comprehensive 4-1 Champions League quarter-final victory over Roma, via Sport, the French international – who celebrated a goal by showing off his Barça badge – was questioned over his future at the club, and stated: “My celebration was to say that I love this club. I just want to play, push myself a hundred percent and do well in a club like Barça.

“That’s what matters to me. The rest are things that come out in the press, true and false. I focus on football.”

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Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde also dented the Red Devils’ hopes of signing Umtiti, stating (via the Sun) My understanding is that he is happy here; we certainly are with him, and we hope that he stays here for many years.

The 24-year-old is one of the most highly rated defenders in world football, and United will be disappointed to see one of their key transfer targets seemingly rule out a move. José Mourinho has repeatedly criticised his defence since becoming manager at Old Trafford, and will be keen to strengthen his backline ahead of the 2018/19 campaign.

In other news, ?an outrageous report has claimed that United are eyeing up a sensational swap deal with Real Madrid this summer – with Paul Pogba, David De Gea and Anthony Martial all heading to Los Blancos, with Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Gareth Bale all heading to Old Trafford.

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Barcelona 4-1 Roma: Fortunate Barca Take Leap Towards Semi Final After Duo of Giallorossi Own Goals

Barcelona took a huge step towards reaching the UEFA Champions League semi finals for the first time since 2015 on Wednesday night, as they secured a 4-1 win over Roma. 

Although the likes of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Luis Suarez featured in the Catalan’s starting lineup, La Blaugrana only took the advantage, and doubled their lead through own-goals; the first coming from Daniele De Rossi and the second via Kostas Manolas. 

However, Gerard Pique’s finish from close range on the stroke of the hour added a touch more respectability to the scoresheet, as Barca’s monumental efforts across three competitions this season finally began to surface; which was no more evident than when Edin Dzeko slotted home with 10 minutes to go. 

But Luis Suarez, who had been enduring a difficult evening, restored his side’s three-goal cushion three minutes before the end. And despite Barcelona now visiting the Stadio Olimpico next week with a two goal advantage, the Spanish champions-elect will be wary their task is not complete yet, having never claimed victory against their opponents in Rome previously. 

Despite an early warning from the visitors which almost resulted in Roma crafting a close-range opportunity inside the opening minute, the hosts settled and took the initiative in the opening quarter of an hour, with Suarez seeing his strike ruled out for offside as the Catalonians searched for a foothold in the contest. 

And although Giallorossi had joy in limiting Ernesto Valverde’s outfit to speculative efforts, the Italians had Alisson Becker’s left-hand upright to thank for keeping the scores level shortly before the midway point of the first half, as Ivan Rakitic tested his range with a curling effort.

After clipping the woodwork, Barca continued to turn the screw, but once again were denied. This time via a smart stop from Eusebio Di Francesco’s number one, who did well to palm Suarez’s low effort from a tight angle away to safety. 

However, Barcelona’s consistent pressure eventually paid off seven minutes before the break –  even though the home side had lacked quality in the final third for the most part – as De Rossi unfortunately but emphatically slammed the ball into his own net. 

Iniesta and Messi’s intricate play on the edge of the Roma area looked sure to finish up at the Argentine’s feet in a goalscoring position, only for the veteran’s interception to quash that opportunity via an outstretched boot, but subsequently fire past Alisson into the Brazilian’s bottom left-hand corner. 

After going behind, the Serie A giants tried to hit back almost immediately through Lorenzo Pellegrini’s free kick. But shortly after the youngster’s effort came to nothing, referee Danny Makkelie called a halt to the opening 45 minutes in which the hosts trundled off the pitch with a somewhat fortunate advantage.  

After the interval, Valverde’s men, as they did in the first half, started slowly, with Diego Perotti gifted a superb opportunity to level things up within just 30 seconds. But the 29-year-old, less than six yards from goal and unmarked, somehow failed to find the target.

And the visitors’ lacklustre offensive prowess came back to haunt them 10 minutes later, as Manolas was this time the man to find his own net after a sublime piece of Barca build up play. 

Rakitic and Messi’s slick one-two from a corner eventually found the Croatia international in space inside the area, before the 30-year-old’s dangerous cross was fired towards the feet of Samuel Umtiti. 

The centre back’s initial effort – from no more than four yards –  initially hit the woodwork, but fortunately for Barcelona, the rebound found the leg of the Roma defender, whose touch eventually took the deflection past Alisson for the second time of the evening. 

And less than five minutes later, the 25-year-old was picking the ball out of his net again after Pique was quickest to react to the Brazilian’s save. 

Suarez, who had been quiet for the preluding hour, shimmied his way into a shooting position before unleashing a curling effort; which I Giallorossi shot-stopper was equal to. However, again unfortunately for the visitors, the strong palm fell kindly to the Spanish centre back, who slammed home into an unguarded net from close range. 

But as the final quarter beckoned, Roma eventually received reward for their professional display, with Dzeko getting the better of Marc-Andre ter Stegen after the Germany international had superbly denied two attacks during the minutes prior. 

However, the hosts’ three-goal cushion was restored minutes before the full time whistle as Suarez netted his first Champions League goal of the season after taking advantage of some sloppy Federico Fazio defending before blasting his first time effort past Alisson. 

That is the way things ended, with Barcelona heading to Rome next week with one foot firmly in the Champions League semi final. 

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Spanish Report Claims Dembele Demands Barcelona Sign Atletico Madrid Defender Should Umtiti Leave

?Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele has reportedly demanded the club sign Atletico Madrid defender Lucas Hernandez should Samuel Umtiti leave the Nou Camp this summer. 

Rumours have been circulating claiming that ?Manchester United are trying to get their hands on Umtiti, who has enjoyed a brilliant couple of years with the Catalan club. The Frenchman is believed to want to stay at Barca, but is demanding wages of around £200,000 per week – something the club will not bow to.

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And now, with Umtiti’s future suspended in the air, Dembele is offering up an alternative to the centre back should he decide to leave Las Blaugrana. According to a report published by Don Balon, he wants Atletico’s Hernandez as a replacement, and Barca are considering it.

Dembele’s improved standing within Barcelona has caused the club to take his opinion into consideration, and the hierarchy are to put him amongst the likes of Ajax’s Matthijs de Ligt and Sevilla’s Clement Lenglet.

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Dembele and Hernandez played alongside each other in the recent international break, both being called up by France manager Didier Deschamps. The defender impressed Dembele, and the youngster is now determined to play with the Atletico centre back on a regular basis.

Should Hernandez make his way to Catalonia, he’d be expected to make the move along with Antoine Griezmann. Los Rojiblancos’ star striker has long been linked with a move to the league leaders, and this summer is when the move is supposed to go through.

Should Griezmann make the move, he’ll team up, and greatly add to one of the strongest attacking forces on the planet.

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Ernesto Valverde Hints Barcelona Are Resigned to Letting Andres Iniesta Leave This Summer

?Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has admitted he has no ‘strategy to persuade’ Andres Iniesta to stay at the club when the season draws to a close.

During his interview prior to Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against Roma, Valverde spoke about Iniesta’s future, as reported by ?AS.

The 54-year old said: ”I don’t have any kind of strategy to persuade him [to stay]. He’s been here for many years and knows how loved he is; he’ll make the decision that he thinks is best, and we’ll respect it.”

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Iniesta has made over 600 appearances for the club and is seen as one of the most legendary players to ever put on the Barcelona shirt. He has won an incredible 30 titles and the thought of him playing at another team is unthinkable for Barcelona fans.

However, Iniesta had his head turned by a ?mouth watering offer from China and may decide to take the move to get one last big pay day before calling quits on his playing career.

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At the age of 33, the midfielder is tiring and has rarely completed 90 minutes this season. He will still have a crucial part to play in Barcelona’s fixture with Roma, who are no jokers themselves, as Valverde was keen to point out.

”Watching Roma’s displays in the group stage, it’s no surprise that they have made it to the quarter-finals. Watching them in the Italian league, too. They’re a team who play very good football in attack and show a lot of togetherness in defence.”

”It’s important for us not to concede. We know we’ll have to put in two good performances to make it through. It is going to be a tough tie.”

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