Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez says he’s glad he didn’t leave the club this season.
Last summer, the 35-year-old was linked with a move to new MLS franchise New York City FC, as well as the Qatari side Al Arabi.
At the time, Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu said Xavi had earned the right to decide his future, while teammates made personal pleas for the veteran midfielder to remain with the Catalan club.
“If Xavi’s departure is confirmed, it will leave a huge hole in the dressing room,” center-back Marc Bartra said in late July. “Personally, Xavi has helped me a lot, and so it would be very sad news for me if he leaves, but we will respect his decision. He has earned everyone’s respect.”
Manager Luis Enrique also held face-to-face talks with the Spanish international to explain the role he envisioned the influential midfielder would have in the squad this season.
Conflicting reports from Spain have stated that rumors is false.
Xavi is set to play his 750th game for Barcelona. When asked about his feelings on reaching the milestone, the midfielder told Barca TV:
“When I was 18-19-20 years old I was a naïve lad, but I was lucky enough to be in the best club in the world. Being in the first team for 17 years, plus as a youth player, that’s nearly 25 years here and that makes me so proud to be here and stay here.
“I’m very glad that I didn’t leave here this year, that I’m still playing games and being useful to Barca and competing. I look back and there have been a lot of games and unique, magic moments at my lifelong club.”
Despite their solid form, questions have been raised about the direction of the club under new manager Luis Enrique. A section of fans have wondered if La Blaugrana are changing their footballing philosophy. But Xavi explained that would never happen at Barcelona.
“It’s basic. The titles we’ve won in recent years prove that,” the midfielder added. “I think it would be wrong to change or style, to change the Barca DNA.”
“We must be competitive, and always try to get to the end of the season in contention for titles. In recent years, I think we’ve been achieving our objectives, which are these.