Barcelona captain Xavi Hernandez is in the process of sealing a move that will see the 35-year-old see out his playing days, on a lucrative €30 million deal over three seasons, with Qatari side Al-Sadd, with the option of a fourth year for another €10 million.
As reported on Monday, along with his playing deal with Al-Sadd, the government in Qatar are also keen to get Xavi involved with their elite Aspire Sporting Academy. This would see the player gain valuable coaching experience, whilst also imparting his vast wealth of knowledge on young footballing stars of the future.
Mindful of Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup, albeit amidst much controversy for FIFA and the ongoing debate about the scheduling of the tournament, the wealthy nation don't just want to be regarded as hosts, but also strong competitors, with much planning to ensure their team is one that can genuinely compete with the best international sides.
According to Spanish sports outlet AS, Xavi finalising his playing days in the Gulf state and embarking upon a coaching career, is all part of a long-term strategic plan for Qatar. One that was originally pencilled with former Real Madrid star, Raul to undertake, before he opted to move to the USA and New York Cosmos.
The suggestion is that during his negotiations to finalise the summer move from Barcelona to Al-Sadd, along with involvement in coaching at the Aspire Academy, Xavi will also be offered the long-term opportunity to directly shape the future of football in Qatar, by also being offered the role of being head-coach of the national team, ahead of the 2022 World Cup.
This future role comes at the recommendation of Aspire Academy general director, Ivan Bravo, who was formerly a marketing director for Real Madrid. His suggestion is that Xavi could play an important part both developing international footballers, then guide them in the head-coach role, at the 2022 tournament.
Officials in Qatar are apparently keen on this idea, based on the success of Spanish balonmano (handball) coach Valero Rivera, who after winning the world championship with his own country, guided the Qatari team to become sub-champions of the world last February.
Former Barcelona boss and current Bayern Munich manager, Pep Guardiola, has often been linked with the the Qatar managerial post for the 2022 World Cup, mostly based on the ambassadorial role he played towards the country successfully winning the bid to host the tournament. However, with Xavi Hernandez now in the frame, a much more strategic approach is being outlined, for the midfield maestro to be directly involved