23 february 2017, Updated 05:45h

Confidential SPORT

Xavi: The lowdown on his Barcelona exit

The midfield maestro first had doubts over his future at the club in April

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Xavi playing for Barca last season | Foto: Ignasi Paredes

Javi Giraldo | 21.6.2014 | 19:19h.

Xavi Hernandez will leave Barcelona after 17 years spent playing in the first team. He didn't take the decision lightly, and he has been stewing it over since April before making his mind up. 

It was in April though, during a difficult season, when Barca lost to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League and were in the final of the Copa del Rey by Real Madrid that Xavi first began to doubt his future at Camp Nou.

He saw that the end of a hugely successful cycle was coming, both on the bench and on the pitch, and sensed that the team was due a major refurbishment. He wasn't sure whether he would have a role after the necessary changes had been carried out.

After losing the league, he decided to leave

His doubts were confirmed after the last game of the league season. With the title to be played for, Xavi was not named in the starting line-up against Atleti and he played just 13 minutes at the end. 

In the dressing room, while Atleti celebrated on the pitch, Xavi decided to bring his Barca career to an end. Considering it was the end of the Blaugrana's cycle, it felt like the perfect time to leave.

The 34-year-old wasn't prepared for a season spent in and out of the side, spending more time on the bench than in the team, where he would be unable to contribute to the team as he has done throughout his career.

In those momens, Xavi thought it was best to take a step to the side and not to interfere with the transition of the side.

On the following day, Sunday, May 18, he went to Ibiza to spend a week resting before the World Cup.

He spoke with Luis Enrique from Ibiza

While in Ibiza, Luis Enrique was officially appointed as the new Barcelona manager. Xavi sent his former team-mate a Whatsapp to congratulate him on the news and Enrique replied. 

Then came the key moment.

Xavi phoned Enrique and the former Celta Vigo boss informed him that he was relying on him to form part of his squad next season. However Xavi made it clear that he would stick to his decision, no matter how much Enrique tried to convince him otherwise.

Sunday, May 25: Meeting with Bartomeu and Zubizarreta

Shortly afterwards, the day before Xavi met up with Spain for the World Cup, he met with Josep Maria Bartomeu and Andoni Zubizarreta. In this encounter, Xavi made it clear that he wanted to leave the club, even though Enrique had said he wanted him to stay.

It was a coridal meeting in which the player demonstrated his determination to leave the club and put in place the foundations for his departure. Bartomeu and Zubi realised there was no changing his mind, and the meeting was very amicable.

Xavi left the meeting feeling very happy with the club's treatment of him - they had promised his exit would not be traumatic and promised a goodbye worthy of his service to the club.

The message was clear though: the decision was made by Xavi, not by Enrique, Bartomeu or Zubi.

Monday, May 26: Only focusing on the World Cup

Xavi then joined the Spanish squad ahead of their defence of the World Cup in Brazil.

From that point on he was focused on his work with La Roja, and their came a lull in the process of him leaving Barcelona. He started against Holland, playing brilliantly in the first half, but fell of the pace, as did the whole of the team, in a disappointing first half.

He had already taken the decision to retire from Spain after the World Cup, but never imagined it would end so sadly. In a decisive match against Chile, he didn't play a single minute, and his final appearance could now come in a meaningless match against Australia.

Friday, 20 June: Confirms to his inner circle his plans

After Spain's elimination, Xavi again began to look towards his Barcelona exit. On the Friday morning (26 June) he began to tell those closest to him that the decision to leave Barca had already been taken. 

He also got in touch with the club, even though he had already spoke with Enrique, Bartomeu and Zubizarreta, to confirm his decision stood. He called personally and requested a press conference for his farewell before July 14.

The future: Qatar, English classes and manager training

Xavi's next step is to play in Qatar, where he will eventually bring his career to an end. He chose the Middle East, rather than the USA, because he feels it will be easier to travel back to Barcelona and to live a comfortable life. 

He had several offers in Qater: Al Sadd and Al Arabi were the most serious ones. 

Once in Qatar, Xavi will begin to learn English and start to go through his coaching badges, with the objective of starting coaching with a younger age group. 

He has never hidden that one day he would like to coach Barcelona - it is his big dream - and it is a goal which he can now start working towards in Qatar, the next destination of a unique footballer.