Thursday. 01.12.2022
LA LIGA

Xavi praises Barca for saving season; Dembele's potential farewell

Xavi has reinvigorated Barca as the Catalan giants have climbed up to second in the league, albeit 13 points behind champions Real Madrid with one game left to play
13 December 2021, Saudi Arabia, Riyadh: Barcelona's head coach Xavi Hernandez speaks during a press conference ahead of the Maradona Cup friendly soccer match against Boca Juniors, which to take place in honour of the memory of of Argentine footballing legend Diego Armando Maradona. Photo: -/Saudi Press Agency/dpa
Barcelona's head coach Xavi Hernandez speaks during a press conference. Photo: -/Saudi Press Agency/dpa/File photo.

Xavi hailed Barcelona for saving a season that "could have been worse" but wants improvements next term from the Blaugrana, who Ousmane Dembele could play his last game for on Sunday.

Barcelona great Xavi was appointed in November as the successor to Ronald Koeman, with the team languishing in ninth in La Liga after an underwhelming start to their 2021-22 campaign.

However, Xavi has reinvigorated Barca as the Catalan giants have climbed up to second in the league, albeit 13 points behind champions Real Madrid with one game left to play.

Barca conclude their campaign at home to Villarreal, and with second place already secured Xavi praised the recovery his side has made, but urged them to improve to compete with Madrid next season.

"We have saved a situation that could have been worse," he told reporters at a pre-match news conference on Saturday. "We have gone from less to more. We have competed but it has not given us any reward. We have to win titles. 

"I don't give myself a grade because whatever is said will be criticized. We have improved a lot. I am the first to demand more from myself. From now on, we will look to improve further.

"We have to improve in every way – psychologically, physically, which we have already improved, and reinforce the squad with two players per position. And also tactically, so everyone understands our ideas."

Villarreal

The game against Villarreal could prove to be Dembele's last at Camp Nou as contract negotiations remain ongoing.

Bayern Munich and Chelsea are reported to be keen on the World Cup-winning winger, whose 11 La Liga assists in 2022 is more than any other player has registered across Europe's top five leagues.

Blaugrana president Joan Laporta has reiterated his desire to keep the France international at Barca, and Xavi hailed Dembele for his efforts in the second half of the season.

"It could be the last. You have to be optimistic. He has played excellent games and when he has not been involved we have noticed," he said of the former Borussia Dortmund player.

Xavi praises Barca for saving season; Dembele's potential farewell
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