Xavi: Barcelona can’t afford to replicate Man Utd struggles in post-Messi era

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Xavi Hernandez gives Lionel Messi of Barcelona the trophy (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

Barcelona boss Xavi has highlighted the difficulty of competing for the trophy after the departure of Lionel Messi but says the Catalan giants cannot repeat Manchester United’s recent struggles.

The Blaugrana will face Sunday’s match against Rayo Vallecano by 15 points after LaLiga leaders Real Madrid have just 18 points to play, although fourth-placed Real Betis are six.

After former manager Ronald Koeman left the Catalan giants in ninth place, Xavi managed the team’s renewal and looked to finish in the top four at the end of the transition season.

Although Xavi has admitted that Barcelona will need patience in the cup fight after losing striker Messi to Paris Saint-Germain, he said the club will not miss the Champions League matches, highlighting the Red Devils as a role model. struggle to enter the tournament.

“It’s true for us. This is the time behind [Lionel] Messi, that’s hard on yourself,” Xavi told a news conference ahead of Sunday’s match against Rayo Vallecano. “He was the only winner of the game. We have to be patient. I’m happy to win trophies but we have to be strong and face the facts.

“We are in the first year of the post-Messiah era, we have to be patient. We have seen a lot of big teams, like Manchester United, where it has been difficult for him to come back, to win.

“Barca will not allow that. We have to fight for the cup, we want to compete.”

Xavi’s arrival had a positive impact on the outfit of Camp Nou, who had briefly threatened to challenge runaway leaders Madrid.

Among the players who will look renewed under Xavi are Ousmane Dembele, who helped his nine leagues in 2022 level him and his former teammate Messi as the most talented players in Europe’s top five Leagues this year.

Meanwhile, one of Xavi’s most trusted first-team players, Frenkie de Jong, has been linked with a move to Old Trafford after former Ajax coach Erik ten Hag was confirmed to take over from Ralf Rangnick at the end of the season.

Xavi, however, is keen to keep the midfielder “for many years”, claiming he has the talent to “mark the season” at the Camp Nou.

“Frenkie is very important to me, the team and the team,” added Xavi. “He is a footballer who has to mark his time, level and personality.

“He’s been at a good level since I came here, and he should continue to score goals, [make] assistants … and be a leading figure in the game. He could be one of the best midfielders in the world in the years to come.

“We have not commented on it [De Jong’s future], but if it is up to me, it will continue for many years.”

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