Rumors have arisen in the past weeks that Xavi, Spanish midfielder for Barcelona would join MLS side New York City F.C. at the end of his tenure at the big Spanish club.
Then shortly thereafter, it was reported by many reputable sources he signed a three year deal with Qatari club Al-Sadd. A contract reportedly worth $10 million dollars. If true, it would be a pure business decision to keep his bank account filled as his play declines in his old age.
THEN, this week both Xavi and Al-Sadd have denied that any deal has been done. Xavi, who visited the Arab nation recently, maintains that it was just a family visit, per ESPN. In short, nobody really knows what is going on, but it does provide us with an interesting look into how aging stars decide what to do with their soccer careers and ultimately their legacy.
The Qatar league while with noble intention, is not a place the world’s best go to compete. Most stars who end up in Qatar or any comparable country is there because they can no longer compete in the European circuit. Burnouts, if you will. Xavi is by no means incompetent, but the immense levels of talent fostered in Europe can replace an aging 36 year-old midfielder.
Having said this, what is a man in his position to do? Really, there are three options. The first is to retire. He’d call it a day in La Liga and finish a one-club man, entering the annals of Barcelona history. But, he’d would have to give up the wage, not something it appears he wants to do.
Option number two: Take the money and run. This is your Qatar league choice. Nabbing $10 million at 36 years of age is excellent. In a relatively noncompetitive league, he could have a decent go of it, but he’s there for the cash, not the silverware.
Option number three: Join MLS. Much more competitive, “soccer” in the United States has his name written all over it. A league hungry for more talent, two or three years of Xavi would be incredible. Many successful players have chosen to make the switch, including fellow Spaniard David Villa, Steven Gerrard, and Kaká. Without a doubt, it is WAY more competitive than Qatar. With a decent fan base and blooming talent, playing in a country who advanced farther in the World Cup as his own seems like the best option.
But we’re forgetting a big factor, the stuff that makes the world turn. Money.
Ultimately, financials will make the decision. If he can get $10 million in Qatar but only $7 million in MLS, Qatar will probably get picked ($7 million is by the way the largest MLS contract in history, held by Toronto F.C. man Sebastian Giovinco). But, if the amount of money is comparable in both leagues, hopefully MLS wins out.
This may serve as a deciding factor for some European stars in the future. While unconfirmed, many players, among them Cristiano Ronaldo and more recently Zlatan Ibrahimović have been rumored to be leaving Europe for a new home in the next few years. If Xavi leaves for Al-Sadd, it could lead others to believe that is the path they should take, which in the eyes of this yank, is not.
Qatar will be hosting the 2022 World Cup, whether this has any impact on his decision remains to be seen.
In the meantime, Xavi and the Barcelona Eleven are chasing the La Liga title. Nobody knows where he’ll go, all we know is he’s got a tough decision to make in the coming months.