Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez has spent the last few days in Qatar enjoying the World Cup before Barcelona return to work on Monday. However the modern football manager has one eye on his work.
Xavi attended several games, including Spain’s 1-1 draw with Germany on Sunday night. With his return, news has emerged that he has settled on Sergio Busquets replacement next summer should the veteran leave the club at the end of his contract.
According to Sport, Manchester City’s Ilkay Gundogan is his chosen man. Also out of contract in the summer, the fact he could be available on a free is likely a big part of the attraction. City want to offer him a one-year extension, but will not impede his departure.
Intelligent, versatile and with years of experience at the top level, Xavi believes that Gundogan could adapt to the single pivot role. At 32, just three years Busquets’ junior, Gundogan is not a long-term solution, but is shaping up as the best option.
Other options mooted, such as Wolves’ Ruben Neves and Real Sociedad’s Martin Zubimendi, would require a large transfer fee and are not within Barcelona’s means at present.
Gundogan probably wouldn’t be the option chosen by most, given he does not regularly play in Busquets’ position. Yet with Barcelona’s scope narrowed, Gundogan looks like an increasingly attractive solution to a significant issue.