Xavi says he would 'love' to coach Barcelona as pressure on Ernesto Valverde mounts

Spanish champions' sporting director and chief executive met with the former Barca and Spain midfielder in Doha on Friday

Xavi has been backed by Lionel Messi and Pep Guardiola to be a future Barcelona manager. AFP

Xavi said it was his dream to coach Barcelona after his Qatari employers confirmed the Spanish champions had approached the former midfielder with a view to installing him as Ernesto Valverde's replacement next summer.

According to a Spanish report, Al Sadd sporting director Muhammad Ghulam Al Balushi said before Saturday's 4-1 win over Al Rayyan that an approach had been lodged by the Catalan club to speak with their former player and talks had taken place.

"Xavi is negotiating with Barcelona," Al Balushi said in quotes reported by Marca.

The former Spain midfielder, who won eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues, three Copas del Reys and two Club World Cups during an illustrious playing career at Camp Nou, confirmed after the victory over Al Rayyan in the semi-final of the Qatar Cup that he was interested in the Barca job.

"I don't hide my dream of coaching Barcelona one day, I would love to coach the team. I support them and my dream is to train Barcelona," Xavi told his club's website. "But now my focus is on Al Sadd.

"Eric Abidal is my friend. Out of respect for Barcelona and Al Sadd, my focus is on the next match against Al-Duhail.

"My focus here is with Al Sadd and the upcoming phase. We have an important game coming up in the final against Al Duhail team, and we must focus on it in a big way."

Xavi, 39, was installed as Al Sadd coach in May after bringing the curtain down on a glittering and trophy-laden playing career, 17 years of which were at Barcelona after coming through the club's famous La Masia academy.

Spanish daily AS reported that Abidal, Barca's sporting director and a former teammate of Xavi's, and Oscar Grau, the club's chief executive, met with him in Doha on Friday and offered him a two-and-a-half year deal to replace Valverde this summer.

"I cannot speak on this issue and the conversation was on many issues with Abidal, and as I mentioned, I am currently focusing on Al Sadd and in the final match of the Qatar Cup on Friday against Al Duhail," Xavi added.

Valverde's position has come under increased scrutiny following Barcelona's Spanish Super Cup exit to Atletico Madrid in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, although the Catalan giants do remain top of La Liga on goal difference from Real Madrid after 19 matches.

The Spaniard, 55, in the role since May 2017, has been criticised for Champions League exits the past two seasons to Roma and Liverpool, while Barcelona have lost three times already in La Liga this campaign – the same amount as they experienced in the whole of last season.

Other names that have been strongly linked with the job have been Ronald Koeman, Roberto Martínez and Thierry Henry. Barcelona's stance to date has been that Valverde will see out this season when his current deal expires.