Barcelona great Xavi has admitted he rejected an offer from the club to succeed Ernesto Valverde as head coach prior to the Spanish champions appointing Quique Setien, stating that it was “too soon” for him to accept his dream job.
Valverde was sacked in the wake of the 3-2 defeat to Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals of the inaugural expanded Supercopa de Espana, with the writing having been considered to be on the wall for the coach for some time.
Xavi was on a shortlist of candidates put forward to the Barca board before former Real Betis boss Setien was appointed on a two-and-a-half-year deal, with the former midfielder looking the most likely to be handed the job at one point.
And the Al-Sadd coach has now confirmed he was made a formal offer by technical secretary Eric Abidal and CEO Oscar Grau, but says he had to turn down their proposal as he feels he needs more experience before returning to Catalunya.
“Yes, I received an offer from Barcelona in the presence of Eric Abidal and Oscar Grau, but I didn't accept it,” he told reporters on Thursday.
“It's too soon to coach Barcelona, but it will continue to be my dream to be Barcelona coach in the future.”
Xavi is said to have met three times with Abidal and Grau in Doha last weekend, and he admits the uncertainty made it difficult to focus on his job at Al-Sadd.
However, the former Spain star insists he is now fully focused ahead of Friday's Qatar Cup final against Al-Duhail.
“I told my family first and then the Al-Sadd players because they were following the topic,” he said when asked who first learned he had turned down Barca's approach.
“I wasn't in my best position during the three days, but I'm now totally focused on Al -Sadd.”
Xavi will be buoyed by the support shown to him by his former club, especially given his relative lack of experience in the dugout, with club president Josep Maria Bartomeu claiming that he has no doubts the club legend will still return to coach Barca some day.
Speaking to Sport, Bartomeu said: “Xavi will be the coach of Barca one day, I have no doubt. He is very capable, he's a person that perfectly understands our football, he's hugely keen to do it and one day he will.”