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Xavi claims Barcelona players were NOT giving their all before announcing his departure – and reveals why he made a U-turn

Xavi suggested his Barcelona players were not giving 100 per cent when he announced his intention to step down in January.

The Barca coach announced he would resign at the end of the season, calling the top job at his beloved club “cruel” and “unpleasant” after a 5-3 capitulation to Villarreal.

An 11-match unbeaten run followed and Xavi feels energetic to at least finish out his contract until the end of next season.

“We try to be demanding with them. This is the history of this club. My decision to say goodbye to him was supposed to do that. Maybe they could have given more,” he said.

‘So that was it. I think that at Montjuïc as at the Bernabeu, we deserved much more (against PSG and Real Madrid).

Xavi claims Barcelona players were NOT giving their all before announcing his departure – and reveals why he made a U-turn

Xavi believes his players didn’t give their all earlier in the season, before deciding to step down.

They have been in good form since then and beat Valencia 4-2 on Monday night.

They have been in good form since then and beat Valencia 4-2 on Monday night.

“I’m doing very well, I explained it the other day in a natural way. In January I felt responsible for the poor results and thought it was best to withdraw.

“But then I saw the confidence of the president, of Deco, of the club and especially of the footballers, which is fundamental.

This confidence allowed Barcelona to become a surprise in the Champions League, even taking a 3-2 aggregate lead in the quarter-finals against PSG.

A home collapse in the second leg saw them lose 4–1 and collapse, before losing 3–2 at Real Madrid on 21 April to effectively dash their slim La Liga title hopes.

However, there is no doubt that Barcelona are playing better football and seem to be a more united team.

Robert Lewandowski has improved markedly: after the 5-3 defeat against Villarreal, which was the lowest of the season, he had scored eight goals in 19 La Liga matches. His record since then? Eight out of 11.

He also scored in both Champions League round of 16 matches against Napoli, after scoring just one goal in the group stage.

Having already lost to PSG and Real Madrid in April, Barca made amends by beating Valencia 4-2 on Monday, coming back to score thanks to a Robert Lewandowski hat-trick. However, they will be unhappy with an error from goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen.

Robert Lewandowski regained some of his old form and scored a hat-trick on Monday

Robert Lewandowski regained some of his old form and scored a hat-trick on Monday

Xavi was delighted to announce he would remain alongside Deco (left) and club president Joan Laporta (centre)

Xavi was delighted to announce he would remain alongside Deco (left) and club president Joan Laporta (centre)

“Barça, above all. It’s very moving. The Catalans and the Cules are like that. Sometimes we do good and sometimes we destroy it all. I felt the support of the club, of Deco and the players” , admitted Xavi after the turnaround.

That emotion, which grew to toxic intensity in January, is part of why he wanted to step down — and why he wants to stay.

Last Thursday, he gave a more complete explanation of his change. “I love Barça and I always try to do what is in the best interest of the club,” he began.

“In these three months (since the announcement of my departure), I have noticed the support of the president (Joan Laporta), the board of directors and (sporting director) Deco.

“The support of the players and fans – who cheered me on in the streets and filled the stadium – was also important in the decision to reverse my decision.

“We probably won’t win any trophies this season, but it’s a winning project. We must continue on this path and we must continue to work hard. I think we have the capacity, the energy and the motivation to continue.

Barca are competing for second place in La Liga with surprise upstart Girona.

Barca are competing for second place in La Liga with surprise upstart Girona.

“In January I thought a change was necessary, but I think it is the best decision now. I think it brings stability and I am especially happy with the support I have received from the club.

“Many people have made me understand that this project is not finished. I stay to continue winning. We will correct the small details that cost us this year and we believe that next season we will be closer to our goals.

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