(Reuters) -Xavi Hernandez is free to take over as head coach of Barcelona after the Catalan club paid the release clause in his contract with Al Sadd, the Qatari team said on Friday.
Al Sadd agreed to release Xavi, who is set to take the reins at his former club where he enjoyed an illustrious playing career following the sacking of Ronald Koeman.
"Xavi informed us a few days ago of his desire to go to Barcelona at this particular time, because of the critical stage his hometown club is going through, and we understand this and decided not to stand in his way," Al Sadd CEO Turki Al-Ali said in a statement here.
“The #AlSadd administration has agreed on Xavi’s move to Barcelona after the payment of the release clause stipulated in the contract. We’ve agreed on cooperation with Barcelona in the future. Xavi is an important part of Al Sadd’s history and we wish him success.”
Xavi is set to replace caretaker coach Sergi Barjuan who was appointed after the club sacked Koeman L1N2RN3BY following a 1-0 league defeat at Rayo Vallecano last month, their fourth loss in six games in all competitions.
Former Spain international Xavi joined Al Sadd as a player in 2015 after 17 trophy-laden years with Barcelona, becoming their head coach after hanging up his boots in 2019.
In April, the 41-year-old led his side to the Qatari domestic league title with the team remaining unbeaten.
Xavi turned down the chance to coach Barca in January 2020 after Ernesto Valverde was sacked, but he has continued to be linked with the job even after Koeman succeeded Quique Setien last August.
Koeman led Barcelona to third place in LaLiga and won the Copa del Rey in his first campaign, but they have struggled this season after being forced to part ways with talisman Lionel Messi as their budget was slashed amid financial issues.
Barca are languishing in ninth spot in the league on 16 points from 11 games, nine points behind leaders Real Sociedad and eight behind Real Madrid who beat them 2-1 in the Clasico L1N2RK0BP.
They are second in their Champions League group behind Bayern Munich with six points from four matches, despite losing their opening two games.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru and Fernando Kallas in Madrid; Editing by Toby Chopra and Toby Davis
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