CAMP NOU CHAOS
YOU South Africa|25 November 2021
They were once a model for other clubs to look up to but Barcelona has fallen from football grace
DENNIS CAVERNELIS

THEY’RE knee-deep in debt, on a serious losing streak and several of their star players are plagued with injuries.

By all accounts Barcelona FC – once a crown jewel of global football – is a club in despair and distress as what must be their annus horribilis draws to a close. Not only is it the year they lost Lionel Messi to Paris Saint-Germain FC, they’ve been mired in a corruption scandal and sacked an apparently ill-suited coach after just 14 months on the job. They’ve also been pulled back from the brink of bankruptcy – and are now left with debt after big-bucks bailouts.

Yet the club believes it can turn around its fortunes now that it’s appointed former Barça legend Xavi as manager of the ailing team.

THE BARÇA BLUEBLOOD RETURNS

Xavi was one of Barcelona’s most celebrated players, dominating the midfield in the years he played for the club. He won several top awards, playing 767 times between 1998 and 2015, and winning every major honour, including eight La Liga titles and four Champions League trophies.

Xavi (born Xavier Hernández Creus) takes over from Dutchman Ronald Koeman (58), who was widely criticised for underutilising players such as Ansu Fati, Pedri and Gavi, as well as those on the verge of a breakthrough such as Alejandro Baldé and Yusuf Demir.

Under Koeman’s management, Barça had its worst season in modern memory. He was sacked after their 1-0 defeat to Rayo Vallecano, reportedly receiving a €13 million (then R234m) payout.

Xavi (41) has promised to return the club to its former glory and vowed to emulate his mentor, Pep Guardiola.

It took three days of negotiations to seal his departure from Qatari club Al Sadd SC. Xavi reportedly agreed to pay half of his €5m (R87,5m) release clause to secure his exit.

A NEW BROOM . . .

On his return to Camp Nou, Xavi wasted no time making changes, calling up players from the B squad to train with the A squad, and sacking two members of the club’s physio department.

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