If Pep Guardiola was considered the long-term successor to the late, great Johan Cruyff at Barcelona, there are those who hope that Xavi Hernández will prove his. The retired midfielder, who while in Spain won not only numerous Spanish Ligas, Copas del Rey and Champions Leagues, but the World Cup and two European Championships, was reported to have rejected an offer to succeed Ernesto Valverde before Quique Setién’s appointment, believing the time not to be right.
He is regardless expected to be in contention whenever the time comes for Setién to depart, and by when he will have significantly more managerial experience, having accepted his first role in the position in May 2019 at Qatar Stars League club Al-Sadd, who he joined in 2015 when he finally left Barca. Equally significant are the influences he has had. Joan Vila, a mentor at Barca, is prominent among them. “He knows more about ‘Cruyffism’ than Johan Cruyff himself,” Xavi once said of Vila. “A scholar who instilled in us a new way of understanding the game.”