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FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta (left) and Barcelona's Spanish coach Xavi address a press conference at the Joan Gamper training ground in Sant Joan Despi, near Barcelona, on Thursday. Image Credit: AFP

Madrid: Barcelona boss Xavi Hernandez said he had unfinished business with the club and money was not what led him to reverse his decision to step down at the end of the season and agree to stay in charge for the 2024-25 campaign.

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Xavi, sitting alongside club president Joan Laporta and sports director Deco at a press conference on Thursday, said he had seen a huge improvement in the team’s performances and morale over the last two months.

The former Barcelona midfielder had spent most of previous day in meetings with club officials.

Barca announced on Wednesday that Xavi, who said in January that he would step down at the end of the campaign, would honour the last year of his contract after agreeing to a series of unspecified conditions set by the club.

“It has not been a simple or easy decision. In January, I thought it was the best thing for the club, but circumstances have changed and, now, I think that continuity is the best thing,” Xavi said.

“I think that the project is not finished, that we can build it into a winning project. I am convinced and very excited. From three months ago to now, everything has changed.

“As rectifying is wise, we are here to rectify. It wasn’t a question of ego or money, it’s a question of the club’s well-being and a matter of confidence in what we are doing.” Xavi denied rumours about him asking for a release clause in his contract and said he “wouldn’t ask for a single euro” to step down.

“I ratify Xavi’s words. It has not been a question of money, but a sporting and institutional one,” Laporta said.

“Barcelona fans should know that Xavi has never been greedy when it comes to money, he has always thought about the club and has never been a condition of any kind.

“We know that he made some statements in the middle of the season, but today we have the good news that he is staying and he has conveyed to me the enthusiasm and confidence he has in the project.”

Xavi played for Barcelona for 17 years, making 767 appearances and winning 25 trophies, including four Champions League titles and eight LaLiga crowns.

But despite being a club great and winning LaLiga last term, Barca’s stuttering form this season put him under pressure.

When he first announced his decision to step down in January, Xavi said that he felt “liberated”, adding that the pressure and demands of the job meant that he could not enjoy himself at his boyhood club.

Xavi said then that his decision was “for the good of the team” and that the players would “be freed up” moving forward. His words were heavily criticised by pundits, but seemed to have a positive impact, with Barca going unbeaten in their next 13 competitive games.

Yet two defeats in their last two games have left them facing a trophyless season. A 3-2 LaLiga loss at leaders Real Madrid on Sunday left them 11 points adrift of their bitter rivals with six games left.

That defeat came a few days after they were knocked out of the Champions League in another heartbreaking 4-1 defeat against Paris St Germain. But Barca president Laporta said he never doubted that Xavi was the right man for the job.

“(Xavi staying) is a matter of keep believing in our project through Barcelona’s identity and belief,” Laporta said.

“I am left with the reaffirmation that, as first team coach, we have an extraordinary person with a spectacular knowledge of football and with a loyal club fan spirit that transmits enthusiasm, confidence and generosity. Barcelona fans can be proud of the coach we have.”