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Barcelona tried to recruit Xavi as their coach a week before his Qatar club Al-Saad were due to play a cup final, which they won

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Xavi wants ‘total harmony’ to return to Barca as coach

Barcelona tried to recruit Xavi as their coach a week before his Qatar club Al-Saad were due to play a cup final, which they won © AFP / KARIM JAAFAR

MADRID, Spain, Mar 29Xavi Hernandez has reiterated his desire to coach Barcelona in the future but suggests he will not return until a different board brings a new sense of direction to the club.

Hernandez is in charge of Al-Sadd in Qatar and turned down an approach in January after Barca sacked Ernesto Valverde, which led to the surprise appointment of Quique Setien.

In an interview with Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia published on Sunday, Xavi said Neymar would be a “spectacular signing”, and singled out former Spain defender Carles Puyol and the one-time Dutch winger Jordi Cruyff as people he would like to work with.

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

“I am clear that I want to return to Barca, I am very excited,” said Xavi, who was asked if a change of board would be needed for it to happen. “Obviously I would like to be in tune with everyone,” he said. “In the dressing room there can’t be a negative or toxic atmosphere.”

“Everything has to fit,” Xavi added. “I would like to come in with people from my environment that could form a good team.”

Pushed on whether working with the current board would be a deal-breaker, Xavi said: “It wouldn’t be definitive but I insist I would like to have total harmony. I don’t know if that can happen… I have nothing against anyone and I don’t have a bad relationship with Bartomeu.

Xavi mentioned the likes of Puyol, whom he played with under Pep Guardiola, and Cruyff, son of Johan and former Barca and Manchester United winger, as the kind of people he would like to work alongside.

“I would like to work with people in whom I have confidence, with whom there is loyalty,” said Xavi. “We are talking about Carles Puyol, who was captain of Barca, and Jordi Cruyff, a very good businessman with a lot of experience as a technical secretary.”

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He also said Neymar, whom the Catalans tried and failed to sign from Paris Saint-Germain last summer, would be a “spectacular signing”.

“Most of the squad seems extraordinary,” Xavi said. “The base is very good. I would sign forwards, like Neymar. I don’t know if he would fit in a social sense but in football terms I have no doubt he would be a spectacular signing.”

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