Barcelona president Joan Laporta has insisted manager Xavi will not be sacked after announcing his decision to quit at the end of the campaign.
The former Barca and Spain midfielder made his shock announcement after last Saturday’s 5-3 home defeat by Villarreal, and Laporta has admitted any other manager might have been shown the door straight away.
Asked about the situation, he told Catalan radio station RAC1: “I found out after the game with Villarreal. I always go down to say a few words to the squad and that’s when he told me.
“I was surprised. I assumed his decision had to do with the result of the game. But then I realised he had been giving the matter some thought and felt under a lot of pressure. It was a resignation in delay.
“He also told me he was turning down the year he has left on his contract. That was honourable because we extended his deal last year.
“I want Xavi to stay until the end of the season. That’s the best thing. If the board had to decide, we’d keep him on until the end of the season. He doesn’t deserve to be sacked.
“If it wasn’t Xavi we were talking about, we’d have got rid of him. I accepted the idea because it’s Xavi.”
Barca bounced back from the Villarreal defeat with a 1-0 LaLiga victory over Osasuna in midweek, but head into Saturday’s trip to Alaves sitting fourth in the table and a full 10 points adrift of leaders Real Madrid.
Xavi has selection problems with a casualty list which features the likes of Gavi, Alejandro Balde, Marcos Alonso, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Raphinha, Sergi Roberto, Ferran Torres and Joao Felix.
Alaves boss Luis Garcia Plaza warned his players not to be taken in by Barca’s depleted resources, but nevertheless vowed to take the game to the Catalan giants.
He told a press conference: “I expect a great Barca. They are a very fearsome team away from home, with players capable of solving the game on their own.
“Let no one doubt that we are going to compete, go out hard and go after them. We are going to leave everything in the game.
“If we don’t give our maximum, we won’t be able to win.”
Alaves welcome back Jesus Owono and Abdel Abqar from Africa Cup of Nations duty and Joaquin Panichelli from injury, but will be without Andoni Gorosabel, Kike Garcia and Carlos Vicente.