Xavi faced the press on Saturday to talk about all things Barcelona ahead of the team’s crunch La Liga clash against Atletico Madrid.
There was a lot to talk about with the Barca coach discussing Ousmane Dembele, his new signings and the prospect of facing the defending champions.
Here are the best bits:
Xavi on Atletico
Yes tomorrow it’s another final for us. We are playing against the champions. A tough team with a fantastic manager. A team that can press up front, they defend well. It’s a final, a tough game, but we are at home in front of our fans for the first time in a month and a half. We want to show that we have trained well, that we have good feelings and that we want to compete. For us these three points are vital. It’s almost a six-point game because if we win we will go fourth. So yes it’s a final and we are motivated.
Xavi on Ousmane Dembele
We haven’t found a solution for Ousmane Dembele. Circumstances have changed, he has a contract. He’s a player of Barca and we have decided he’s part of the squad list. We have to use him. He can help us. He’s been a good professional whether he’s been involved or not. So that’s the club’s decision. We will use him when I think he can be useful. He’s part of the team.
Xavi on Dembele’s strategy
We tried to find a solution. I understand the club’s position and Dembele’s. I know the fans are not happy with the player. We have to think what is the best for the club. He’s a player with a contract. He can help us and that’s all. It doesn’t matter if we made mistakes or not. We have decided now together. We are all united, we are a team, a family. We have to make decisions. A month ago we decided something but now things have changed and we think that’s best for the club and the team. I will use him when I think we need him.
Xavi on if the club loses authority by playing Dembele
I think we took good decisions, trying to benefit the club, taking into account the circumstances. We wanted to extend his contract. I will understand Barca fans but we need to think about the team. We need all our fans and also they have to support Dembele if he plays. I understand people will be angry but the most important thing is the group. He is training well, he is a good professional and he’s one more player.
Xavi on Auba and Adama
Both of them have trained well, probably Adama is in better shape. Auba suffered Covid-19 and has been working individually. Tomorrow we’ll decide but they are both available. They are excited and we want to see them in the squad.
Xavi on deadline day
I think that the club has taken great decisions. They have worked hard. Mateu, also Jordi Cruyff, they are helping us a lot. A big effort from the club in not easy circumstances, financially, we have signed good players. We have a better squad now and let’s see if these players can help us grow. A good job from the club. I am happy.
Xavi on leaving Dani Alves out of the Europa League squad
I have a bad feeling of course for the decision because it was a tough situation and we thought that the right full-back position is better covered than the No. 9. Of course that’s unfair on Dani because he gives us a lot on and off the pitch.
Xavi on Barca’s signings
Not just speed. I would say, they are experienced players, they understand the game. Auba and Adama are at a great age to understand the game. They know when to receive the ball, when to run. We have more options to play into space with Adama, Auba and Ferran. They can create, it’s going to be difficult for our opponents’ defenders. We have new options and that’s great for the group and competition in the squad.
Xavi on Araujo’s contract extension
Of course it’s a priority. Ronald is a very important center-back. He’s helping us a lot. We are really happy with his performances. He’s a loved player in the locker room. It’s one of our priorities to extend his contract with the club and his agent. He is the present and future of the club.
Xavi on his previous comments about Aubameyang
No I didn’t say he wasn’t useful for Barca. I said he was missing aspects, that there were other players, like Luis Suarez. Auba will help us a lot, pass the ball and run. He’s fast, he scores goals, the numbers are there, he’s experienced.
Xavi on the Europa League
It’s a good chance for us to win a trophy and to get a ticket to the next Champions League. We want to be playing in the UCL but now we’re in the Europa League and now it’s one of the main objectives. I’ve played in it as a player but didn’t win but now I want to as a coach.
Xavi on what roles Abde and Jutgla will play now
They have helped us a lot. I believe in them but there are more players now, it’s great for the new signings and for me as a manager. If they don’t play with the first team then I want them to play with the B team.
Xavi on if Alba will play every game now
Well Balde is out for 5-6 weeks. We have more options. We have to see. Jordi is an important player but we can all improve. For me Alba is a key player.
Xavi on Luis Suarez
We are talking about probably the best No. 9 that Barca has had, along with Eto’o, in the last 20 or 30 years. He won titles, he’s been a great colleague, yes I think he should have a good reception.
Xavi on Atletico’s style
It’s not our style. I don’t think that Barca’s supporters would understand the idea, it doesn’t fit. That doesn’t meant they aren’t a competitive team. That’s the reality. I have the same opinion. Atletico have won two leagues under Simeone and been close to winning the UCL playing a clear style, but it’s not Barca style. This does not mean I don’t admire Cholo, he’s a great manager but it doesn’t fit in at Barca. I’m not criticizing it’s just the reality.