Xavi remains “the future of Barcelona”, claims Juan Antonio Pizzi, with the Camp Nou legend destined to return to his roots at manager when the right opportunity presents itself.
The iconic product of the famed La Masia academy system in Catalunya spent 17 memorable years as a first team star with the Blaugrana in his playing days.
In total, Xavi made 767 appearances for Barca and helped them to eight La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns, while also becoming a World Cup and European Championship winner with Spain.
A new challenge was taken in 2015 when linking up with Qatari side Al Sadd, with his coaching teeth now being cut in the Middle East.
Talk of a homecoming is never far away, though, with Xavi being heavily linked with a role at Barca whenever questions are asked of those filling the dugout.
He has resisted the urge to make an emotional move, with there still much for him to learn in management circles, but it is considered to be only a matter of time before the 40-year-old takes the reins in familiar surroundings.
Pizzi, a former team-mate of Xavi, told the Daily Mail: “I think he evaluated the situation very well – there is the fact that he would be coaching former team-mates – but also the fact that he would be going home perhaps without the experience of having managed in La Liga.
“I think that led him to take the decision that he eventually took, to say: ‘Give me some time. I want to coach Barcelona and I think I’m prepared to do it but I think I have to develop myself a little bit more’.
“I am absolute convinced that the future of Xavi and the future of Barcelona will come together at one point, I don’t know if in two years or five years or eight years but Xavi is going to be Barcelona coach, there is no doubt about that.”
Pressed on whether Xavi needs to wait on those he once played alongside – such as Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique – to retire before returning to Barca, Pizzi added: “I don’t think that’s necessarily a determining factor but I do feel that each individual needs to feel ready for the challenge that he is about to take on.
“I don’t think he should take the job because of the needs of Barcelona in any given moment, such as when the club changed Ernesto Valverde and there was a lot of talk that Xavi could come in as coach.”
Xavi was offered the chance to return to Barca in January when the decision was taken to part with Ernesto Valverde, but said approach was turned down and the baton was eventually passed to Quique Setien.