Barcelona coach Xavi has been facing the press ahead of Sunday’s La Liga match up with Sevilla at the Camp Nou.
The manager spoke about the game, offered an update on Alejandro Balde’s fitness, Sergio Busquets’s future and also spoke about Ansu Fati amid rumors of interest from Man Utd.
Here are the best bits:
Xavi on Sevilla
It’s a difficult opponent despite where they are in the table. But they are a great team. I think we are talking about a great coach, he knows how to work the defensive aspect, to apply the high press. Tomorrow will be difficult, they are physically strong, they can make life difficult. I think we are coming into the match in good form but tomorrow is a different exam and we need to get the three points.
Xavi on four midfielders
I think that we are comfortable in whichever system. We have also played great games with two wingers. It depends on the players, also how they react when they lose the ball. It’s not about the system, it depends on the players, but we are just as comfortable. It doesn’t change much, with the four midfielders, they help the team.
Xavi on Busquets’ future
We work together and we have the same thought. It’s his decision. We are waiting for what he decides. We respect him. We want him to do what he’s comfortable with. He’s won the right to decide his future. If he continues then I will be very happy.
Xavi on Pablo Torre
He hasn’t played for a few games. We spoke. He needs rhythm, he needs games, with his age he can’t have 3-4 matchdays without playing. We agreed on this, it’s nothing new. He’ll play with the B team, get that competitive rhythm so he’s ready when we need him.
Xavi on Dembele’s absence
We miss a player that goes one on one. He’s the best in the squad at that. He can beat defenders. He always generates situations of two against one but Raphinha can do the same, Ansu, Ferran. We want to play the same way whoever is on the field. It’s true we lose the ability that Ousmane has but we win in others.
Xavi on four midfielders - is it best for Frenkie?
I think it benefits the entire team. We lose less balls when there are more midfielders. We are more together, more united. We regain possession quicker as well.
Xavi on Frenkie de Jong
He’s always been indispensable for me, regardless of how we play. To play between the lines, to attack, to defend, he’s got technical qualities, he’s got all the conditions a central midfielder needs when they play at Barcelona. I like how he plays and that’s why I use him so much.
Xavi on Balde fitness
The doctor said he can play tomorrow, so we’ll decide based on how he feels.
Xavi on Chelsea’s big spending
If they do it then it means they can. I don’t know the Premier League rules. We are focused on us where we have a lot of work to do.
Xavi on if Barcelona are favorites to win La Liga?
No. I think we are a candidate which is one of the objectives but not favorites. We are competing against the defending champions of the league and the Champions League and it will be difficult to win this title against a strong Madrid. La Liga will go down to the wire. I still see Madrid very strong despite being five points down.
Xavi on if he’s willing to sell Ansu Fati
I want him here. I want to have patience with him. Things will get better for him. He’s an asset for the club, we have a lot of trust. He will get back to his best. I have a lot of confidence in him. His mentality in the training sessions makes me very happy. We have to have patience. He needs time. He’s still only 20. Patience. He’ll get better. Now is not the time to talk about player sales.
Xavi on Balde
We were surprised. His evolution has been so fast. At 19 he’s playing at a high level. The level that we expect from a full-back at Barca. He’s been important in attack and defense, hopefully he can continue like this. We’ve been surprised, we’ve worked a lot with him defensively which is where he needed it. Offensively he generates a lot. I’m happy for him, he deserves it.
Xavi on Raphinha
He can score outside of the box, he passes, he can score inside the box. He’s important. He always works his socks off for the team. He’s a guarantee. A few weeks ago he was a little bit down but this goal helped his morale a lot. That’s what it does for forwards. But I focus on other things too, the defensive help, the sacrifice for the team. He’s important.
Xavi on Kounde’s role
His natural position is as a central defender but he helps us a lot as a right-back. He’s improved a lot. He’s an alternative, seeing as we don’t have a natural right-back. Ronald and Sergi are other alternatives. We need alternatives in that position. I know perfectly well what his natural position is but he plays really well there too.