He got onto the bus and walked down to back. There he sat and waited for the rest of his teammates. In front of him, Lionel Messi sat down. Both players had poor games but the Argentine at least had an excuse, making only his second appearance after eight weeks out.
Occasionally the Barca forward would look out of the bus and smile at screaming fans but behind him Xavi Hernandez did not lift his head once. It is not often the midfielder has a quiet or bad game but on Saturday he did and it raised more questions of how much longer Barca can count on him?
A leader both on and off the pitch, it took a while for his talents to be appreciated. At one stage it looked likely that he would have to leave Barca to get away from Pep Guardiola’s shadow. In the end he stayed and finally won the recognition he deserved.
On Thursday against Getafe in the Copa del Rey, Xavi came off the bench and made his 700th appearance in a Barca shirt. But the big question before the game was how many more times would he pull on the famous colours?
Before the Getafe game rumours surfaced that Xavi had agreed join the New York Red Bulls after the World Cup. It was said that the 34-year-old had decided to follow former teammates Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez across the pond to ply his trade in the MLS.
Reports suggested that the former Arsenal forward had phoned the Spain international to try to persuade him to come to the States. It was also said that Manchester City were keen to sign the player for their own MLS outfit, New York City FC. The player was quick to poor water over the rumours though.
“Nobody has made me any proposition, I know nothing else about New York apart from that it is very cold there. Henry has not called me, nor have I spoken with him. I do not have his telephone number,” said Xavi before the Copa game.
He also said he had come close to joining Bayern Munich in 2008 but Pep Guardiola persuaded him to stay. This was the second time the player had come close to leaving the club. Will the third time be the charm?
Some feel Xavi’s comments are ambiguous, as he doesn’t say anything about his future at Barca. This hasn’t been a great year for the midfield maestro. So far he has played 15 games and only provided one assist. Injuries have cut his playing time over the past few years and seen other players emerge.
Cesc Fabregas has grown into the role for which he was signed and is forming a great partnership with Andres Iniesta. Tata Martino has said he wants Xavi to stay but can’t promise he will be a regular. The question is, will Xavi be content to become a squad player or would he prefer to try something new before it’s too late?