Lionel Messi wants Xavi to come to Barcelona to replace Quique Setien, and club chiefs might be pressured into making a decision because of Messi’s uncertain future at the Nou Camp. That’s according to transfer expert Duncan Castles, who believes Xavi may opt to wait because Messi has too much power at the La Liga giants.
Messi’s future continues to be a talking point as he approaches the final year of his contract.
The Argentine’s current deal expires in 2021, though it has been claimed that he can leave at the end of any given season if he chooses to.
There have been suggestions that he would be tempted to leave to reunite with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, though it appears his mind is still on staying at Barcelona.
Messi wanted Xavi to take over from Ernesto Valverde in January, but the ex-midfielder opted to stay with Qatari side Al-Saad.
Now, he wants the 40-year-old to take over from Setien, and is unhappy with various current situations at the club.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner is believed to be unhappy at the way the club has approached transfer negotiations in recent years, and specifically wanted Neymar to be prioritised over Antoine Griezmann last summer.
Messi is also said to be displeased at the current strength of the squad, believing it to be incapable of challenging for the Champions League.
And Castles believed that Messi’s unhappiness at the club could pressure Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu into sacking Setien and going all-out to bring in Xavi, though he also suggested that Xavi might wait until after his old team-mate moves on.
“Lionel Messi wants him to come in as coach, I’m told by people close to Lionel Messi,” he said on the Transfer Window Podcast.
“We have what seems to be an almost eternal problem at Barcelona in that Messi is unhappy with the way the club is run. He’s unhappy that they’re almost certainly going to lose La Liga, he’s unhappy that they’re not in shape to win the Champions League again, and unhappy with his treatment from the club.
“He’s out of contract in a year’s time, and has a clause in his contract allowing him to leave at the end of each season if he chooses to do so. That, above all else, is provoking this move for Xavi by Bartomeu, because he needs to solve the Lionel Messi problem before he solves any other problem.
“Messi wants Xavi, therefore [Bartomeu might] push to bring the coach in, and try and push the many many issues Barcelona are facing as a squad and a team – because of an ageing squad, the money wasted on recruitment over the years – down the line by having another managerial announcement inside seven months.
“The question of whether Xavi wants to do it or not is key to this, and I’ve had suggestions from people close to him that Xavi is indeed playing the long game here.
“He wants to get himself a pay rise at Qatar, he’s very important to the Qataris as an ambassador for the World Cup, so they want to retain him, and that’s why he was given the new one-year deal at Al-Saad, I’m told.
“He definitely wants to manage Barcelona, but think of it from Xavi’s perspective.
“Do you want to come in as Lionel Messi’s choice when you know Lionel Messi has the influence to change the manager in the space of a few months when he’s unhappy with performanceS? Or is it better to wait for Messi to retire as a player or wants to go and play in another country for another club to finish his career, and then come in without that extremely unusual set-up where the most important person at the club in every dimension of their decision-making is one player.”