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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Joan Laporta acknowledges unfulfilled expectations as Xavi announces departure from Barcelona

Barcelona president Joan Laporta admitted that the club’s expectations have not been fulfilled this season after Xavi announced he would step down as the club’s head coach in June.

Saturday’s home defeat to Villarreal left Barcelona 11 points behind their Catalan neighbours Girona, who have played one game more, and 10 points off Real Madrid at the top of the standings in La Liga.

It has been a disastrous two weeks for the club; losing the Spanish Super Cup final 4-1 against Real Madrid before being eliminated from the Copa del Rey at the quarter-final stage by Athletic Bilbao.

“On the sporting side, it is true that this season things are not going as we had planned,” Laporta said on Sunday.

“We came from winning La Liga and the Spanish Supercopa, with an improved squad — we had better expectations but they are not being fulfilled.

“We have to be aware that we have to reverse this situation.”

Laporta added that Barcelona were not giving up hope of winning the league title and will aim to win the Champions League, with the first leg of their round of 16 clash against Napoli taking place next month.

However, Barcelona will be aware they are just three points clear of Atletico Madrid, who have a game in hand, and Athletic Bilbao in the league standings, while they have not won a Champions League knockout tie in four seasons.

Laporta explained that it was Xavi’s decision to leave the club at the end of the season, despite having signed a new contract through to 2025, with the option of an extra year, earlier this season.

“Xavi told me that he would leave at the end of the season and that he wanted to finish the season,” Laporta added.

“It is a formula that I accept because it is Xavi who proposed it to me. He is a legend of Barca, he is an honest person, who acts with dignity and who loves Barca.

“I am convinced that I can accept it because I know that he and his staff will be fully committed until the end of the season.”

(Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

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