Madrid: Ernesto Valverde will take Barcelona training on Monday after Xavi told the club he would not be accepting the job of coach immediately, it is learnt.
Xavi, who is currently in charge of Qatari team Al-Sadd, held talks with Barca’s sporting director Eric Abidal and chief executive Oscar Grau on Friday and Saturday.
But a source has said that Grau and Abidal were returning to Barcelona on Sunday, after Xavi said he would not be giving his agreement straight away.
Xavi could yet resume negotiations in the coming days or, more likely, in the summer once the season has finished.
In the meantime, Valverde remains in charge and the plan is that he will take training as usual on Monday morning.
Yet it remains to be seen how he responds, with the current Barca coach likely to have been unimpressed by the club’s indiscreet pursuit of Xavi.
Abidal and Grau met Xavi on Friday in Qatar and then again on Saturday night following Al-Sadd’s Qatar Cup semi-final win over Al-Rayyan.
The suggestion on Saturday had been that Xavi would make a decision as early as Sunday but the club’s iconic former midfielder wants more time.
His situation is complicated by the fact he would like to lead Al-Sadd in the Qatar Cup final, which will be played on January 17.
It would also be a daunting task to join Barcelona mid-season. The team are level on points in the league with Real Madrid and face a tough last-16 tie in the Champions League next month against Napoli.
There is also the club’s political situation to consider, with Xavi believed to be key to the hopes of presidential candidate Victor Font, ahead of the club elections due next year.
“It’s a difficult decision,” wrote El Pais on Sunday. “If he accepts, he is put under the wing of a weak leadership, with elections due in 2021. But if he says no, he may be criticised for refusing to return home.”
Xavi is also said to want to show respect to Valverde, who has overseen Barcelona winning two La Liga titles in his two seasons in charge.
But Champions League collapses against Roma and Liverpool have not been forgotten and poor performances in recent weeks have prompted fears of a repeat.
Barca were beaten 3-2 by Atletico Madrid on Thursday in the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia.