Xavi defends Qatar move: It's an exciting project

The midfielder says he can only speak highly of his experiences in the country and insists Barcelona will cope with his absence

Xavi has defended his decision to move to Qatar at the end of the season, insisting it represents “an exciting project”.

The 35-year-old confirmed on Thursday that he will leave Barcelona at the end of the season to join Al Sadd in Qatar, bringing his remarkable career in Spain to an end.

Xavi’s move is not without its controversy, however, with concerns persisting over the Gulf nation’s bidding process for the World Cup in 2022 and its treatment of migrant workers.

But the World Cup-winning midfielder says he has nothing but praise for what he has seen of Qatar in his visits so far.

“Qatar is an exciting project, the treatment of the local people has been extraordinary,” he said at a press conference on Thursday.

“We went to visit the country and we liked the facilities. I can only speak highly of Qatar and it’s ideal to go on with my football career.

“I’m waiting for a conversation with Pep Guardiola, we have exchanged messages. I’ve spoken with Raul and I am very excited. Both my brothers and my sister are very excited to be better in the future “

Having arrived as an 11-year-old, Xavi broke into the Barcelona first team in 1998 and went on to establish himself as an integral figure as Barca prospered with their tiki-taka style of play.

And he has no doubt the club will enjoy further success, pointing to the way they have coped with similar high-profile exits in the past.

“Barca will carry on winning, competing and playing well – history has shown that,” he said. “We have seen big players leave before and [the club] always rebuilt and continued. 

“Barca will bring through new players from inside and outside the club so I don’t think they’ll be a problem. Barca will continue to be a great club, no doubt about that.

“It’s difficult to say who will replace me. I came in for Pep and that was a huge responsibility, so nobody was a successor for him and nobody will be a direct successor of me. 

“The team is more important than any individual. The team have played without me this season and been fantastic. There are always going to be home-grown players at this club.”