Home BETTING TIPS Is Xavi right to depart the talented new generation at Barcelona?

Is Xavi right to depart the talented new generation at Barcelona?

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Barcelona’s Champions League quarter-final win away to Paris Saint-Germain last week offered a microcosm of the Catalans’ season as a whole to date. Their defensive flaws were exposed at times by Kylian Mbappe and co. but the performance was supercharged by a core of promising young players who could sustain Barcelona for years to come.

17-year-old Lamine Yamal was a threat down the right side while Pau Cubarsi – another 17-year-old – was impressive at the back. Pedri – still only 21 – came off the bench to produce an outrageous assist with Fermin Lopez – 20 years old – contributed. With the future so bright for Barcelona, why would Xavi Hernandez want to leave?

Xavi announced in January his intention to depart as Barca manager at the end of the season amid a run of poor performances and underwhelming results. At the time, Barcelona had just lost 5-3 at home to Villarreal. They were 10 points behind Real Madrid in the La Liga table and the Catalans’ season seemed to be slipping through their fingers.

Barca are still trailing Real Madrid in La Liga, but the Champions League has given them purpose. A run to the competition’s semi-finals – and possibly the final – is on the cards and Barcelona’s young players are thriving. Xavi has faced questions, but is increasingly finding the answers to suggest he should walk back his decision to leave.

“You often feel there is lack of respect, you feel that your work is not appreciated,” Xavi said at the time of his announcement. “It wears you down terribly, in terms of health, of mental health, your mood, your emotional state. I am a positive guy but the energy goes down, down, down, until the point at which you say it makes no sense. It makes no sense to continue. That’s how I explain it.”

Only Xavi can speak to the toll the Barcelona job has taken on his mental health. It’s certainly true that the position is one of the most pressurised in world football. In difficult circumstances, Xavi has done a better job than most have been willing to give him credit for – it was only last season that Barca won the Spanish title.

The purpose of Xavi’s appointment as Barcelona boss was to return the club to its traditional principles, one of which relates to the production of young talent through La Masia. This is where Xavi has achieved a great deal of success – no fewer than 16 academy graduates have been handed a first team debut under the former midfielder.

Yamal is a generational talent who has carried Barcelona as an attacking outfit in 2024. Fans have been wary not to compare the teenager to Lionel Messi after the cautionary tale of Ansu Fati, but the similarities are unavoidable – Yamal is already a key figure for club and country and the best youngster to come through at Barca since the legendary Argentine.

Cubarsi has only started 13 matches for Barcelona, but he has the physical and technical attributes to succeed at the elite level. He was a standout performer against PSG last week and handled the threat of Mbappe as well as could be expected. The Catalan press have likened him to Ronald Koeman and Gerard Pique.

Pedri has struggled due to injuries and a lack of fitness this season, but he has the potential to be one of the best creative midfielders of his generation. Then there’s Gavi, who will be sidelined until the end of the campaign, who was brought through by Xavi to be Barcelona’s beating heart on and off the ball.

Barca under Xavi remain a work-in-progress, but there has been undeniable progress. This would be made even clearer were the Catalans to progress past PSG this week and into the Champions League semi-final. Even if they aren’t able to pull that off, Barca are a team that is increasingly in the image of their manager.