The impending departure of Xavi from Barcelona has several key ramifications. For one, the club is losing an icon because he claims it will release the tension within the club, perhaps attributing the massive pressure of managing Barcelona to personal struggles. This also means Barcelona will be back in the market for a manager. Whoever replaces Xavi is going to be the fifth permanent Barcelona manager in six seasons.

Rampant managerial change can work for some clubs. Barcelona is not one of those. With the financial constraint on Barcelona, the club needs consistency from its supposed leaders. Moreover, the club is in a peculiar position where it has a dependency on young players. Teenagers like Lamine Yamal, Pau Cubarsi, Vitor Roque and Gavi can use the experience of a manager like Xavi to further their development. Yet, even without the playing expertise of Xavi, these players need one consistent guide.

Barcelona found a manager who understands the identity of the club, something that disappeared since the departure of Luis Enrique in 2017. It has been far from perfect. Barcelona is not going to win LaLiga this season after shocking performances at home against the likes of Girona, Villarreal and Real Madrid. Yet, there have been flashes of some of the Barcelona style of play that Xavi was brought up on.

Additionally, Barcelona must retain Xavi because of his desire and drive with the club. Previous managers sat on the bench and let the game go on. It became a matter of letting Lionel Messi or one of the elder players be the impetus in guiding the club to success. That changed under Xavi. An emotional leader, Xavi brought back the passion of a club in a stadium like Camp Nou that had turned into a quiet cathedral of soccer. Going back to Pedri’s stunning goal to beat Sevilla in the 2021/22 campaign, Xavi has instilled energy at Barcelona. Take his two dismissals from the touchline as the primary example. As a midfielder, he had one red card in his career. Now, he is readily available to defend his players in any situation.

Maintaining the development of Barcelona’s young stars

For better or for worse, Barcelona has been forced into a situation where it depended on young graduates of La Masia. Consequently, the Catalan club has used the aforementioned teenagers without caution. It falls on the manager to make the call as to put the teenagers in key situations. Few can look at 16-year-old Lamine Yamal or 17-year-old Pau Cubarsi and take issue with them. Xavi is the one that took the risk.

Barcelona needed a risk taker as a manager, and that is what they got in Xavi. Even if some of it was a forced hand because of Barcelona’s financial struggles, Xavi recognized the talent that he had at his disposal. At the same time, he understood how to get the most out of each of these players. For example, he isolates Lamine Yamal on the wing to allow him to use his speed and dribbling. In the case of Pau Cubarsi, the defender needs the insurance that a mistake will not cost him or the team. Therefore, Xavi always puts the 17-year-old between Jules Kounde and one of the other center-backs. In doing so, Xavi lets Cubarsi express himself more with his passing ability, which already stands out among the side’s back line.

Xavi’s development of these young players has freed the club from depending on lofty transfer deals on some of the best players in the world.

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The manager hunt will not be cheap

Barcelona will struggle to find a manager that is willing to gamble like Xavi. Much of that comes from the fact that no Barcelona supporter could ever dislike Xavi. His playing days in the midfield ensured his legendary status for the club.

Yet, even if Barcelona finds its perfect managerial candidate, it will not come cheap. As of now, there are two likely replacements for Xavi. The first is Brighton and Hove Albion boss Roberto de Zerbi. Then, Sporting CP manager Ruben Amorim is also in the mix. Both the Italian and the Portuguese are under contract at their new clubs for the foreseeable future. According to some reports, Amorim would cost Barcelona around $16 million if the Spanish side wants to pry the manager away from Sporting.

That would be a painful irony for Barcelona. It would sacrifice its manager, who says leaving the club will help it find its footing for the future. At the same time, it would pay top funds for a manager. In fairness, both Amorim and de Zerbi have proven that they can work a great team without overly spending. Yet, Barcelona should work to retain its manager that will not cost some form of a transfer fee.

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