Valverde could still go, despite Xavi no

Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez has decided to turn down the opportunity to immediately become the club’s head coach but Ernesto Valverde’s future remains in the balance. Over the coming days, president Josep Maria Bartomeu will meet with other members of the club’s hierarchy, starting on Sunday, to decide what direction to take.

Club sources have said it is “not an easy” situation to solve and that things are looking “complicated” for Valverde, although nothing is definitive yet.

Bartomeu has always supported Valverde — even when other board members haven’t — but his patience has been tested over the last week following a 2-2 draw against La Liga’s bottom club Espanyol and the Spanish Supercopa defeat to Atletico Madrid.

Valverde’s job was not thought to be in immediate danger after that loss due to the nature of the performance, but Barca changed their minds and sent sporting director Eric Abidal and CEO Oscar Grau to Qatar, where they met with Xavi on three occasions and held a meeting with the injured Ousmane Dembele.

But after two days of phone calls and meetings, the Al Sadd manager told Abidal and Grau on Sunday that he was open to the possibility of joining the club next season but not right now.

Xavi, who has been linked with the Barca job ever since he stopped playing for the club, would prefer to start a new project from scratch and not go behind Valverde’s back, sources said. On Saturday, Xavi said he respected Valverde a lot.