FC Barcelona have activated the release of Al Sadd manager Xavi Hernandez and will appoint the 41-year-old as their new head coach.
The former Spain international has been the first choice of Joan Laporta to take over the rebuilding work needed at the club, following a summer of financial strife, the departure of Lionel Messi and the recent sacking of Ronald Koeman.
Al Sadd confirmed that Barcelona have paid “the release clause stipulated in the contract” and say they will cooperate with Barcelona “in the future”, as they wished Xavi success in his future role.
Sergi Barjuan has been in temporary charge of Barca’s first team but will now revert to his B team role – though he will likely oversee the weekend match against Celta Vigo.
A short statement from Turki Al-Ali, the Qatar club’s CEO, said: “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 and his family will remain welcome in Doha, and our relationship will continue.”
Xavi played for Barcelona between 1998 and 2015, winning 25 trophies with them in that time including four Champions League titles.
Since his departure he has played and then managed Al Sadd, with his two years in charge there being his only coaching experience so far.
As he prepares to take over at the Camp Nou, Barcelona sit ninth in the table in LaLiga, six points off the top four and nine points behind leaders Real Sociedad. They are without a win in three matches domestically, but beat Dynamo Kyiv in the Champions League in midweek to sit second in the group with two matches to play.