By DAN KARELL
It’s a real changing of the guard at Barcelona this summer.
After joining La Masia in 1991 and moving his way up the ranks to become one of the best midfielders in soccer history, Xavi Hernandez looks set to leave Barcelona this summer, ending his 23-year-stay by mutual consent. Xavi is expected to head for Qatar, according to multiple reports in Spain.
Xavi joins Carles Puyol, Cesc Fabregas, and Victor Valdes as veterans who are leaving the club this summer.
The departure of Xavi comes after a disappointing season on both a personal, club, and international level. Barcelona failed to win any trophies this season and the sight of Xavi sitting on the bench for Spain in their 2-0 defeat to Chile at the World Cup told a story of it’s own, that time has begun to catch up with the supremely talented Spaniard.
While nothing official has been announced yet, a formal announcement is expected once Xavi returns to Spain from the World Cup.
Here are some more stories to start off your Friday:
SUAREZ LIVES OUT DREAM OF BEATING ENGLAND
Despite coming from a country of just over three million people, Luis Suarez dreamt that his side could beat England, and his dream came true.
Suarez scored twice in Uruguay’s stunning 2-1 victory, the second goal coming when he put his laces through a strike and ripped a shot so fast that England goalkeeper Joe Hart barely had a chance to blink before it was by him.
“I’ve been thinking about this,” Suarez told reporters. “It was something I dreamed about happening quite a lot. When I saw the ball I closed my eyes and kicked it for all the things I went through, for the people that supported me. And it went in.
“Nobody could have imagined a match like this.”
The fact that Suarez was able to play in the first place was pretty impressive, considering that he underwent knee surgery to fix a partially torn meniscus less than a month ago. The injury and subsequent recovery forced him out of Uruguay’s first group stage match, a 3-1 loss to Costa Rica.
Suarez thanked the doctor who operated on him, Walter Ferreira, for keeping his World Cup dreams alive.
“”If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here,” Suarez said.
SPAIN WON’T SACK DEL BOSQUE
The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has decided against sacking Vincente Del Bosque despite Spain’s poor display at the 2014 World Cup.
Spain has lost 5-1 to Holland and 2-0 to Chile, eliminated from the group stage faster than any defending World Cup champion. However, RFEF president Jorge Perez says that his federation has no reason to fire Del Bosque despite the recent results.
“From top to bottom in the federation we are all behind Del Bosque,” Perez told radio station Cope. “If we have the best coach around, why would we change?”
“He won’t be affected by the criticism. His family might convince him to leave, but we aren’t going to find anyone better. Del Bosque has not resigned. If he does, we will try to convince him to stay.”
Perez told Cope that he would be speaking with Del Bosque after the World Cup, but that he expected the veteran coach to continue with La Furia Roja.
“We still haven’t spoken with Del Bosque, it’s better to put a bit of distance between us and wait and then speak calmly in Madrid,” Perez said. “When Del Bosque signed the contract he said that if there was any motivation that we thought he shouldn’t continue, he would leave. But I want him to stay.”
HODGSON WON’T RESIGN
England manager Roy Hodgson has hit back at the press calling for his resignation.
The 66-year-old has a contract with the FA through 2016, but has failed to lead England to a win at the 2014 World Cup. The English fell 2-1 to both Italy and Uruguay, leaving them on the brink of going home after just three matches. In fact, if Italy fails to beat Costa Rica on Friday, England’s fate will be sealed after two games.
Despite the disastrous showing, Hodgson told reporters after the Uruguay game that he doesn’t plan on quitting.
“No. I don’t have any intention to resign,” Hodgson said. “I’ve been really happy with the way the players have responded to the work we’ve tried to do. I’m bitterly disappointed, of course, but I don’t feel I need to resign, no. On the other hand, and if the Football Association think I’m not the right man to do the job, that will be their decision and not mine.
“I think in both the games we’ve shown some elements of playing good football, and shown we are a team that’s making progress. But results decide everything and both results have been negative.”
English defender Joleon Lescott has opted to join West Bromwich Albion on a tw0-year contract instead of a move to MLS. (REPORT)
Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery won’t need back surgery despite a number of reports in France stating the contrary. (REPORT)
Brazil national team winger Hulk returned to training on Thursday after sitting out Brazil’s second match, against Mexico, with a thigh issue. (REPORT)
Inter Milan are set to sign Rubin Kazan midfielder Yann M’Vila, with young midfielder Saphir Taïder moving in the opposite direction. (REPORT)
Veteran Serie A coach Zdenek Zeman has been named Cagliari manager for the upcoming season. (REPORT)
Iran national team head coach Carlos Queiroz will step down at the end of the World Cup. (REPORT)
What do you think of these reports? How big of an impact will Xavi’s departure have on Barcelona? Where does he rank for you among the best midfielders in soccer history? Do you see Del Bosque resigning at the end of the tournament?
Share your thoughts below.