Rumours surrounding Barcelona legend Xavi’s possible move to MLS have been taking off over the past week, following the breakdown of his potential transfer to Qatari club Al-Arabi.
On Tuesday, Barcelona-based newspaper Sport reported that the 33-year-old was close to finalising a three-year, $24 million contract with New York City FC, following in the footsteps of ex-club and international teammate David Villa, who became the expansion side’s first-ever signing last month.
Officially announced as the league’s 20th franchise in May last year, NYCFC are set for their inaugural MLS season in 2015, alongside fellow newcomers Orlando City FC, who have just added Brazil and AC Milan star Kaka for their top-flight debut.
A joint venture between Manchester City and MLB’s New York Yankees, who together paid a reported $100 million for the team’s expansion rights, their Barca connections can be traced to their parent club’s director of football, Txiki Begiristain, with the MLS club’s CEO, Ferran Soriano, also the ex-general manager of the Catalan giants.
While Xavi was previously linked to the side in January, other reports from Spain state that the midfielder is also considering offers from the New York Red Bulls and the Seattle Sounders, despite the latter having no Designated Player spots open, making a move unfeasible at the moment.
Nevertheless, NYCFC is still the most practical destination for the 133-time capped international and, with Frank Lampard’s arrival also said to be imminent, it would give the club a formidable core to begin life in MLS with.
With Villa already set for a six-month loan spell at Australian A-League side Melbourne City FC, another of Manchester City’s associate clubs, before returning in January for pre-season training, it’s possible that both the World Cup-winner and Lampard could thus do the same this summer.
A one-club man, Xavi has made 723 appearances for Barca since his debut in 1998, having come through the famous La Masia youth system, winning seven La Liga titles, three Champions League winner’s medals, two Spanish Cups and two Club World Cups during that time.
However, he seems set to be the latest player to leave the club this summer, joining Victor Valdes, Carles Puyol and Cesc Fabregas on their way out, as new coach Luis Enrique continues to remodel the squad.