Barcelona unveils first major plans after Xavi's departure

Barcelona faces the biggest renovation in recent years. The reigning Spanish national champions must look for a new coach following the imminent departure of Xavi, while the squad also needs significant overhaul. Deco is being pushed forward to make a clean sweep at Camp Nou, and the first outlines of his plans have been leaked.

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Xavi announced his departure as head coach of Barcelona at the end of this season following a disappointing defeat against Villarreal (3-5) last weekend.

But that's not the only major change looming at the Catalan powerhouse, as there needs to be significant changes in the player lineup too, despite the still pressing financial situation. This comes in light of the disappointing current fourth place in La Liga and the painful knockout in the Spanish Super Cup.

Firstly, according to the Spanish media outlet SPORT, the club intends to part ways with veterans Marcos Alonso (33) and captain Sergi Roberto (31), both of whom have expiring contracts. Although the club icon has taken a considerable pay cut in recent years and received plenty of playing time under Xavi, sporting director Deco sees little future in both players.

The Portuguese will have complete control over sports matters at Barcelona, following Xavi's announced departure. Deco must try to part ways with some expensive players and those who can still bring in money. A total of around two hundred million euros is needed to renovate the squad, with the underperforming Raphinha definitely on the list to leave. The Brazilian has so far failed to live up to high expectations but is still in demand in the market.

For the upcoming season, the squad also contains a relatively large number of central defenders, making the sale of a key player in that line not out of the question, provided it yields enough revenue. Particularly, there has been significant interest in Ronald Araújo over the last few transfer windows, although the club has been reluctant to let him go so far. Frenkie de Jong was also previously considered for sale primarily from a financial standpoint, but there is no longer any doubt about his sporting future. Ferran Torres and Andreas Christensen are other players who have attracted interest and still represent a decent market value, without being indispensable at Camp Nou.

With loanees Joao Félix and Joao Cancelo, both compatriots of Deco, the sporting director of Barcelona does want to continue, as they are seen as an absolute added value to the first team. However, the question remains whether both players are financially feasible.

In addition, Deco will need to thoroughly assess Barcelona's squad, as the club has brought in a considerable amount of experience in recent seasons with players like Robert Lewandowski (35), Ilkay Gündogan (33), Oriol Romeu (32), and Inigo Martínez (32). However, this quartet of players significantly burdens Barcelona's salary structure, which has been financially troubled for years, potentially forcing the club to offload expensive players without residual value.

The club will increasingly rely on its own youth players in the coming years, with Lamine Yamal, Fermín López, Alejandro Balde, and Gavi being the most recent successful examples, despite the severe injuries of the latter two. With loanees Ansu Fati, Eric García, Chadi Riad, and Pablo Torre – all of whom have made a more than good impression outside of Camp Nou – the Catalan club has plenty of homegrown talent for the future. Pedri, despite his injury-proneness, has been a regular since the Ronald Koeman era, while Vitor Roque, a great talent, joined this winter from Brazil.


One of the names that has come up since Xavi's announcement as a potential new coach at Camp Nou is Mikel Arteta. The Spanish coach has firmly denied rumors that he would leave his current employer Arsenal for Barcelona, but he fits the profile, considering how he has led Arsenal's renovation. Other serious candidates have not been widely mentioned, although BILD brought up Hansi Flick's name and Jürgen Klopp was mentioned in the German media. Rafa Márquez (coach of Barça B) has expressed openness to the job, but these rumors are not yet very concrete.

Updated: 10:44, 30 Jan 2024

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