Busquets admits Xavi's plans baffled Barca stars

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The return of club legend Xavi to Camp Nou was announced by Barcelona on November 5, after a rocky start to the season under Ronald Koeman's leadership.

Barcelona lost four of their last six matches during Koeman's tenure, before caretaker Sergi Barjuan temporarily stabilised matters ahead of Xavi's arrival from Al Sadd, the Qatari club where he launched his coaching career.

Despite his celebrated playing days, which saw him make 767 appearances for Barcelona – only Lionel Messi has managed more – Xavi was untested at LaLiga level as a coach and did not initially convince everyone in the current squad.

There were sticky results in his first two months, but since the turn of the year Barcelona is unbeaten in LaLiga, with a 4-0 thumping of Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu last time out emphasising its improvement.

It would take a major turnaround still for Xavi's side to leapfrog Madrid at the top of the table, given they trail by 12 points with just one game in hand, but Barcelona's belief is soaring.

Busquets said: "He's worked hard, especially early on. It wasn't easy because a lot of players didn't understand his ideas and he's had to work hard to get things to improve.

"He has changed a lot and brought in his own staff. I think he learned a lot under Pep [Guardiola]. We veterans try to help him, but not just with the idea and not just with Xavi, we always have done to make sure the young players come through and adapt properly."

If it beats Sevilla on Monday (AEDT), Barcelona will go second in the Spanish top flight, a prospect that seemed unlikely when the team sat ninth as Koeman departed.

Xavi starred in the great Pep Guardiola teams at Barcelona and will have taken many of his teachings from the influential coach, who is now at Manchester City.

To win LaLiga in his first season will probably be beyond Xavi, given the substantial lead Madrid have, but next term promises to see the great rivals in a serious title battle.

"We still have our hopes in the league, but all we can do is win and hope," Busquets said in an interview with RAC 1. "We are on good form and have the right mentality to at least make sure we have a chance."

At the age of 33, Busquets has a year left on his Barcelona contract and could then follow Xavi into coaching, another great Barcelona stalwart taking on a tracksuit role.

First stop for Busquets after Barcelona is likely to be outside Europe, if he elects to play on. Like Xavi, who saw out his playing days in Qatar, Busquets cannot stomach the thought of competing against Barcelona.

"I'd find it very hard to go elsewhere in Europe and play for a team that's chasing the same things as Barca," he said. "I can only really see myself going to play in a different continent."


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