Barcelona boss Xavi Hernandez faced reporters on Friday to preview the team’s next La Liga game against Real Betis at the Camp Nou.
The coach talked about Ansu Fati’s fitness, Ousmane Dembele’s future, the Edinson Cavani rumors and offered his congratulations to Alexia Putellas.
Here are the best bits:
Xavi on Real Betis
We know tomorrow is a vital game with three important points. We still have that urgency and many points to recuperate with those teams ahead of us. We can’t lose anymore. So we know it’s a difficult moment, that this is a direct rival of ours, they are above us in the standings by four points with one game less. It’s a vital game for us to get the three points, to play well, and to continue to grow.
Xavi on Ansu Fati
Ansu is doing a tremendous effort to be back with the team and it makes me emotional to see how hard he works. We know the importance of that game but I hope and I want him to be comfortable. We know that these next matches are important for us. Until he’s 100% he won’t be back with the team. I’m not going to force any players. We did that in the past and we lost them. When he’s 100% he’ll be back with the team.
Xavi on Dembele’s contract
It is not only economic, but a sporting issue too. We’ve made it very clear to him - and for me he can be the best in the world in his position. He can be. It depends on him, his commitment. I’ve made the project clear to him and he has to decide.
Xavi on January exits
Let’s see. It’s early. Tomorrow and Wednesday are vital games. The club is working to strengthen but someone would have to leave. You have to be cautious about the salary limit but it’s early. We are working with the club to make it happen.
Xavi on Sergino Dest
Dest is 100%. He suffered quite a lot as well. I think generally speaking all the players are showing an incredible commitment. They all want to play despite some nagging injuries. We even need to stop them from playing because some are not 100% but they are happy, they want to compete and that’s good for the group. Sergino is one more player like that, another player that’s shown his commitment even though he’s had back pains. But now he’s 100% and tomorrow he’ll be available.
Xavi on Cavani rumors
He seems like a good footballer to me but I prefer to talk about those players here. They need our love and that of the fans so that they can perform at their best, starting tomorrow.
Xavi on Dembele
Ousmane is 100%. It will all depend on how we want to attack and defend. How I’m going to use him. He’s 100%. He’s happy, he’s training well. He’s good and he’s ready to play.
Xavi on putting Dembele in the stands if he doesn’t renew
It is not the objective. If he has a contract, he must play, I am very clear on that, because of the image of the club. I do not contemplate that option. I do not want to think negatively.
Xavi on Sergi Roberto
He’s a person who is an example to La Masia, for the professionals and the coaches. He has been playing and suffering for a year. Some have been very unfair to him, he was whistled at the Camp Nou. Last year he was never 100%. I recommended him to stop and have a surgery and recover. He’s exemplary.
Xavi on Frenkie de Jong
For me he’s a very important player for this team and not on the transfer list. The other day he played a great game. He gave that final pass, he was comfortable in his position. What we were looking for that day against Villarreal was Pau Torres would be more focused on Frenkie which is why we changed his position. We managed to do that, he even scored a goal, he between the defensive line a lot, he made 2-3 excellent passes towards goal and that’s the Frenkie we want. He was excellent.
Xavi on Messi winning the Ballon d’Or
It’s football justice. He’s the best player in the history of the game. He deserves the seventh trophy. I think Pep said it was never the wrong decision to give the Ballon d’Or to Messi and I agree, he’s the best football player. We can talk about whether Lewandowski deserved it also but each year brings these types of debates.
Xavi on Alexia Putellas
I want to congratulate Alexia Putellas who made history. Her production continues to be incredibly impressive. We have a great friendship. We shared time at this club together when she was very young but you could already see how good she was then and her vision of the game. So, happy for here so I want to congratulate her.