Xavi Hernandez has managed his return to Barcelona relatively well given the resources he has had to work with, but his comments before the Elche game suggest a humble disposition for the Spanish giants this season.
Xavi took charge of his fifth LaLiga game since taking over from Ronald Koeman at Barcelona earlier in the season and his side marched on to a hard-fought win over relegation strugglers Elche.
Before the game, Xavi admitted that Barcelona are way off the mark in terms of squad strength and quality this season but will be fighting for the top four positions.
“The main objective is to be in the top four and to win titles,” Xavi said in the pre-match press conference before his side went on to beat Elche.
“Nothing can be ruled out, we are a long way behind the leader but I have great confidence in the squad.
“The results aren’t coming but I am confident, the feelings are better and positive, even if the results aren’t, tomorrow is another huge test.”
Xavi has now won three, drawn and lost one each of his five LaLiga games so far and is currently seventh on the table with 27 points.
The Elche match could have ended differently but his side left it late, with Nico Gonzalez’s second goal of the season sealing all three points for the Blaugrana at the Camp Nou.
Xavi praised the fighting spirit of his young squad, singling out Pablo Gaviria who surpassed Lionel Messi to become Barcelona’s third youngest ever goal scorer.
Xavi: Barcelona have lost their style
Xavi, however, also noted that the squad has been poor and said that they have “lost the Barcelona style”.
“We’ve lost [Barcelona’s] model of play and we have to bring it back,” Xavi said after the game.
“I have not been here for six years and there are things that have surprised me tactically. I wasn’t here so I don’t know who’s responsible for it, but it’s making [the job] hard for us.
“The large majority [of players] don’t understand positional play. There are mechanisms that I understood from the age of 11 and we have players here that haven’t worked on them.”
He also expressed hopes that this win will mark a turning point in their season as they march forward towards their objectives of finishing in the top four of LaLiga.
“We hope this will be a point of inflection,” the 41-year-old said. “We complicated things for ourselves. Elche survived on our errors and that cannot be the case. We have to learn and be more responsible.
“I was a little angry [after they equalised] because I wasn’t imagining not winning the game. We deserved much more, but in the situation we’re in, these are three golden points.”
Barcelona tracking Haaland; will need to fulfill condition to become key destination for Dortmund striker
Before the Elche game, Xavi spoke about the club’s interest in Erling Haaland.
“At the moment we have a difficult economic situation,” he noted.
“We have to be realistic and think that it will not be easy to strengthen the team, there is a problem with the salary limits. We will see what happens. I don’t know anything about Haaland, everyone would be interested.”
Barcelona could jump ahead of the competition for Haaland’s signature next summer if they can do a favour for Mino Raiola, however.
Sport reports that Barcelona President Joan Laporta is willing to do anything to land the Norwegian striker and that includes signing another of Raiola’s clients, Ajax Amsterdam right-back Noussair Mazraoui.
Mazraoui is currently enjoying his best football at Ajax, scoring four goals and providing three assists as Ajax defends their Eredivisie title. His defensive abilities are also top-tier, having helped the club keep 14 clean sheets in the 21 games he has played so far.
Mazraoui has expressed a desire to play for the Catalan giants and with his contract expiring at the end of the season, could become a cheap option for Barcelona who are currently struggling at the right-back position.
This deal could sway Raiola’s favour towards Barcelona as they battle with the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain for Haaland’s signature.