Xavi left Barcelona at the end of last season having won more trophies than any other Spanish footballer in history. He could have retired as a one-club legend and gone out with a treble-winning season, but he chose to follow the money to Qatar and join Al Sadd on a multi-year deal.
The move was a curious one given his long-held commitment to outspoken vigilance against threats to the purity of the game like defensive tactics and improperly watered pitches. A player who almost certainly would have vigorously disagreed with Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup on both human rights and stadium hydration grounds is now both plying his trade there and an official ambassador for Qatar 2022 as a result of this deal.
And it seems this apparent compromise of his once unimpeachable ideals has drastically changed his professional fortunes.
Al Sadd are the most successful club in the history of the Qatari Stars League and finished second last season without Xavi. This season, however, they are fourth in the table through 17 of 26 matches and 19 points away from leaders Al Rayyan. But wait, there’s more.
Al Sadd lost the Qatar Super Cup Lekhwiya, leaving Xavi with a rare runners-up medal in January.
Then on Tuesday, Xavi missed a decisive penalty (video above) in a shootout against Al Jazira to eliminate Al Sadd from AFC Champions League qualifying.
It would be easy to say that this is just a coincidental run of bad luck, but it’s obvious that Xavi is, in fact, cursed and will play out the final days of his career in perpetual torment on pitches that are presumably far too dry for his liking.
It didn’t have to be this way, Xavi. It didn’t have to be this way.