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Barcelona to hire former star midfielder Xavi as manager

Barcelona to hire former star midfielder Xavi as manager
Former Al Sadd head coach Xavi is expected to replace fired manager Ronald Koeman at Barcelona. Photo by Noushad Thekkayil/EPA-EFE

Nov. 5 (UPI) -- Spanish La Liga soccer team Barcelona plans to hire Xavi as its new manager, Al Sadd, the coach's current team, announced Friday.

"The Al Sadd administration has agreed on Xavi's move to Barcelona after the payment of the release clause stipulated in the contract," Al Sadd said in a statement. "We've agreed on cooperation with Barcelona in the future. Xavi is an important part of Al Sadd's history and we wish him success.

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"Xavi informed us a few days ago of his desire to go to Barcelona at this particular time, because of the critical stage his hometown club is going through, and we understand this and decided not to stand in his way."

Xavi, 41, was a star midfielder on Barcelona's senior team from 1998 to 2015. He played at Al Sadd from 2015 to 2019. He was hired to coach Al Sadd in 2019.

He led the club to an unbeaten record in 22 matches last season, with 19 wins and three draws. Al Sadd won the Qatar Stars League domestic title.

Barcelona fired manager Ronald Koeman last month. Koeman joined the club in August 2020.

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Barcelona sits in ninth place in the La Liga standings, with four wins, four draws and three losses in 11 games. Celta Vigo hosts Barcelona in a La Liga game at 11:15 a.m. EDT Saturday in Vigo, Spain.

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