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Has Xavi Hernandez lost the Barcelona dressing room?

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Photo by JORGE GUERRERO/AFP via Getty Images

On Saturday, Barcelona manager Xavi faced numerous questions about his future. Despite the management’s affirmation that he would continue for the next season a few weeks back, speculation about his potential firing has surged.

The past few days have been tumultuous at Barcelona, with Xavi at the centre of it all. His comments before Wednesday’s game against Almeria did not sit well with the club, reigniting rumours about his sacking. 

Consequently, when Xavi took to the field for Saturday’s training session, it was a highly anticipated event, and he altered his usual routine.

Typically, Xavi is the first to arrive on the field, accompanied by his technical staff, engaging in ball touches or conversations with his assistants while waiting for the team. 

However, this Saturday was different. The coaching staff arrived as usual, but without Xavi leading them. They waited on the field for a considerable time before the players began to emerge, and Xavi was the last to join them.

This delay was due to a meeting between Xavi and the team. He wanted to reassure the players amidst the swirling rumours about his future. Xavi emphasized his commitment, enthusiasm, and ambition for the rest of the season and the next one.

Friction within the dressing room?

Xavi reportedly had an argument with Raphinha. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Does this indicate he has lost the dressing room? Quite possibly.

Barcelona are never a place of calm. The instability surrounding the future of the first team creates a fertile ground for rumours and one recent rumour involved Raphinha and his alleged poor attitude during the match against Valencia in April.

According to sources, the incident began in the 66th minute when Raphinha was substituted. The Brazilian reportedly left the field visibly upset, made some comments, and even insulted assistant manager Oscar Hernandez when greeting him.

Raphinha’s initial reaction had a second phase. Xavi, informed of Raphinha’s behaviour, allegedly decided not to include him in the next match. 

Now, contrary reports are stating that while Raphinha did express frustration when substituted against Valencia, he did not insult or disrespect Oscar Hernandez or any other staff member.

Moreover, Raphinha is particularly upset because he is usually the first player to be substituted in games.

Amid all the chaos, there are reports that some Barcelona players’ agents are unhappy with how Xavi is handling the team

One of the main issues is with Robert Lewandowski. He is often taken off the field during important moments, which makes him feel less valued.

Joao Felix is also not happy with Xavi. He sometimes has to warm up on the sidelines but doesn’t get a chance to play, which is frustrating for him.

Then there is Ronald Araujo. Once seen as a key player, he is now being considered for a transfer to Bayern Munich.

Xavi has had tussles in the past

Xavi has been questioned by his players in the past. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

It is important to note that rumours of Xavi losing the dressing room are not new. 

Given the team’s fluctuating performance this season, reports in January indicated that some players were losing faith in Xavi after a 1-4 defeat to Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final.

Since then, there have been ongoing reports of players questioning the team’s tactics and feeling frustrated with Xavi’s remarks about their inability to adapt to Barcelona’s style of play.

Despite these challenges, Xavi has consistently reassured that his relationship with the players is positive. Yet, there is a growing belief that confidence in him is diminishing. 

Speaking ahead of Barcelona’s home match against Rayo Vallecano, Xavi stated that he has the trust of club president Laporta and sporting director Deco and that he remains eager, excited, and ambitious.

“The club reassures me and gives me hope and we continue with the same ambition. I understand all the noise, but it doesn’t change anything,” said the manager.

While such statements are expected in a press conference, the reality on the ground appears different. There is undeniable friction within the team, and Xavi is at the heart of it.

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