The ex-Barcelona captain Xavi Hernández, who now plays in Qatar for Al-Sadd SC, has said that no one could have foreseen Neymar leaving the club but that he was still confident the club could compete on all fronts this year.
“It’s unusual for a player to not want to stay at Barça, you could even say it’s very strange. It’s been 17 years since it happended, since Luis Figo went to Real Madrid,” he said in an interview with the French newspaper L’Équipe.
Xavi went on to say he understood that Barça fans were disappointed with Neymar, who is expected to make his debut tomorrow against Guingamp.
“He didn’t give an explanation. He left Barça without giving a press conference or anything,” the midfielder added. Although Neymar has joined PSG, Barça remain among the favourites in all competitions, Xavi explained “We have Messi, the best player in the world. Suárez, the best forward. Piqué, Iniesta, Busquets, the best in their positions”.
Of the options linked with Barça to fill the hole left by Neymar, Xavi was particularly keen on the Ivorian midfielder Ivorian Jean Michaël Seri, known as the “African Xavi”. “He’s fantastic. He has what we call in Barcelona Barça DNA,” Xavi enthused.
The player explained that this would be his last season because, although physically he felt good, at 38 “it’s time to bow out” and move onto the next stage of his career where he wants to develop as a coach.