Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 January 2020

Andres Iniesta criticises Barcelona handling of Ernesto Valverde situation

'What Barcelona are doing is a bit ugly,' says ex-Barca midfielder, with former teammate Xavi reportedly holding talks with the club about replacing under pressure Spaniard

Vissel Kobe captain Andres Iniesta, centre, has criticised his former club Barcelona over the club's treatment of coach Ernesto Valverde. EPA
Vissel Kobe captain Andres Iniesta, centre, has criticised his former club Barcelona over the club's treatment of coach Ernesto Valverde. EPA

Former Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta has criticised his former club over the treatment of manager Ernesto Valverde, describing their public courting of Xavi as "ugly".

The Spanish champions appear ready to move quickly to line up former Spain and Barca playmaker Xavi to replace Valverde, who is under growing pressure following Barca's exit from the Spanish Super Cup last week at the hands of Atletico Madrid.

Sporting director Eric Abidal and chief executive Oscar Grau travelled to Doha over the weekend to hold talks with Xavi, the current manager of Qatari club Al Sadd, with several Spanish newspapers reporting that the former Barcelona playmaker was offered a two-and-a-half-year deal to replace Valverde. The Spaniard's current deal at Camp Nou expires in June.

Barcelona are top of La Liga and have lifted back-to-back league titles under Valverde, but there are concerns over the team's levels of performance and style.

"What Barcelona are doing is a bit ugly. They have to have some respect for their current coach, the way things are done are what hurt the most," Vissel Kobe midfielder Iniesta told Onda Cero radio station on Monday.

"Valverde's situation is very weak right now. [Xavi] knows best if he's ready or not."

Xavi told his club's website on Sunday it was his "dream" to one day coach Barcelona. But reports in Spain suggest the 39-year-old, who played with Iniesta at Barca in their most successful era where they won four Champions League titles among numerous other trophies, will not accept the job until the end of the current campaign.

Other names that have been strongly linked with the job have been Ronald Koeman, Roberto Martínez and Thierry Henry. Barcelona's stance to date has been that Valverde will see out this season when his current deal expires.

Updated: January 13, 2020 04:21 PM

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