Xavi’s old Barcelona pals
At the time of Xavi’s managerial appointment, Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba were his former teammates who were Barcelona players.
He then brought back another former teammate and old pal Dani Alves in January as an emergency backup.
Apart from Ter Stegen who only joined Barcelona in Xavi’s final season, and Dani Alves who was clearly past it, Pique, Busquets and Alba all his teammates for years both for club and country.
As a result, those three were expected to form the backbone of Xavi’s managerial journey at Barcelona but nearly a year down the line, it has not been the case at all.
No preferential treatment for the old guard
Dani Alves’ fairytale Camp Nou return would only last 17 games in six months after which he was let go at the end of his contract under the tutelage of his old pal Xavi which led to some unsavoury words from the Brazillian.
Gerard Pique has only started one game for Barcelona this season and is effectively behind Jules Kounde, Ronald Araujo, Andreas Christensen and Eric Garcia in the central defensive pecking order.
Jordi Alba was almost forced out of the team by Xavi this summer but the Spanish left-back turned down a loan move to Inter Milan and has only started twice since then, behind Alejandro Balde and Marcos Alonso in the pecking order.
Sergio Busquets is the one who has managed to retain his importance to the team under Xavi with five appearances so far but even he looks set to leave with reports circulating that he is in his last season at the club.
Honourable mention to Ter Stegen who has played every possible minute for Barcelona this season as the undisputed first-choice goalkeeper.
Why is Xavi doing this?
To be fair, there are a number of reasons Xavi isn’t showing love to his old pals but the most obvious one would be age.
Pique is 35 years old and clearly past his prime, add the fact the club also just reinforced that position with two new signings, it makes sense that he isn’t playing.
The Jordi Alba one is a bit more baffling, although Alba is also in his twilight at 33 years of age, he is clearly still good enough to contribute as he registered three goals and 13 assists in 44 games last season.
The decision to sign Alonso and effectively make Alba the third-choice left-back is puzzling and leads one to wonder if Xavi’s treatment of the old guard is personal or just simply doing what’s best for the team.
To give the benefit of the doubt, the Spanish manager may just be looking to play his best players in every position which justifies the frequent usage of Ter Stegen and Busquets, despite both being in the 30s.
Or perhaps he knew the expectation was for him to show preferential treatment and then opted to overcompensate to not be accused of favouritism.
Either way, the trend has become noticeable and it is clear that Xavi is not letting sentiments dictate his team selections with his former teammates.