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Xavi signs new deal to remain at Al-Sadd

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Former Barcelona star Xavi Hernandez signed on as head coach of Qatari club Al-Sadd for one more year Sunday, quashing rumours of an imminent move back to the Spanish side.

There had been media speculation in recent days that World Cup winner Xavi, 40, was being lined up to replace Quique Setien at Barcelona at the end of the season.

Hernandez turned down Barça’s approach in January after Ernesto Valverde was sacked, which led to the surprise appointment of Setien.

“I am happy to continue with Al-Sadd, and the team’s goal will always be to compete for all titles,” he said in a statement on the club’s website which added that his contract had been renewed for a second season.

The focus in this current period is to fully equip the players for the upcoming domestic and Asian competitions.”

The relationship between Barcelona’s board, led by president Josep Maria Bartomeu, and the players has proved tense, with Lionel Messi’s public criticism of technical secretary Eric Abidal among a number of off-field controversies.

“I have made it clear that I want to return to Barca, I am very excited,” Xavi earlier in March said when asked if a change of board would be needed for it to happen.

Vincent Paul

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