Xavi to step down as Barcelona coach at end of season

Marcotti: Xavi exit announcement 'a blow' for Barcelona (1:54)

Gab Marcotti reacts to Xavi's announcement that he will step down as Barcelona manager at the end of the season. (1:54)

Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández has announced he will leave the club at the end of the season after Saturday's 5-3 defeat to Villarreal at the Olympic Stadium.

The pressure had been rising on Xavi throughout January after a string of disappointing results, including a 4-1 loss to Real Madrid in the Spanish Supercopa final and Wednesday's 4-2 loss against Athletic Club in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals.

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Xavi, who only recently penned a new deal until 2025, says he made the decision before the Villarreal game, but that now is the right moment to make it official.

"I would like to announce that I will not remain Barça manager beyond the end of this season," Xavi confirmed in a news conference.

"I had decided to leave a few days ago, but I think now is the right time to announce it to help reduce the tension that exists around the club. A change of dynamic is needed.

"So, as a Barça fan, thinking of the club's best interests, and of the players, I think it's the right decision. No one is bigger than the club and I am a supporter above all. I love this club."

Defeat to Villarreal left Barça 10 points adrift of LaLiga leaders Real Madrid following their elimination from the Supercopa and the Copa del Rey this month.

Saturday's loss was the first time Barça have conceded five goals in a home LaLiga match since January 1963, when they were beaten 5-1 by Real Madrid. It's also the first time since 1951 that they have given up four goals or more in consecutive games.

They remain in the Champions League, with Napoli to come over two legs in the round of 16 next month, and Xavi is still hopeful of going out on a high.

"I will give even more in these remaining months," he added. "I still think we can turn things around and have a good season. I think we can fight for LaLiga, even being 10 points back.

"I think this announcement can liberate the players and help reduce the tension around the club. They don't deserve any of it -- they are a great group. In a certain way it has liberated me, too.

"I don't want to be a problem for the club, I want to be a solution. I was a solution two years ago when I was appointed, but now, thinking with my heart and thinking about the club, it's best that I leave in the summer."

Xavi insists his decision is "irreversible" regardless of any success Barça may have between now and the end of the campaign.

"The feeling of being Barça coach can be unpleasant," he continued. "It's cruel, there's a lack of respect towards you, your work is not valued. ... It's terrible on your mental health and your morale.

"I am a positive guy, but it reaches the point where you think there is no sense in continuing. That's how it is."

He added that he had not yet communicated the decision to his players because they were "devastated" in the dressing room after the Villarreal game, but that he will speak with them at training Sunday.

Xavi, 44, took over from Ronald Koeman in 2021 and steered Barça from ninth in LaLiga to a second-place finish and Champions League qualification.

Last season, his first full campaign in charge of the club, he led the Blaugrana to their first LaLiga title since 2019 and also won the Spanish Supercopa.

However, the club failed to get out of the Champions League group stage for the second season running. They have managed to reach the knockout rounds of Europe's elite competition this term, but results elsewhere have condemned the coach.

Losses to Madrid and Girona before Christmas saw them fall off the pace in LaLiga, and January's displays against Madrid, Athletic and Villarreal served to further increase the doubts.

Xavi, who coached Qatari side Al Sadd before returning to Barça, where he spent over 20 years as a player, suggested he will not look for an immediate return to management when he steps down.

"I don't know what the future holds for me because this job has meant I spend less time with my family," he said. "They suffer, and I can't be so selfish for my whole career. I will spend some time at home and rest, I need to be with my kids more."