Xavi Hernandez to turn to academy prospect as rotational option, set for new contract

Barcelona Manager Xavi Hernandez had some of his requests fulfilled during the summer transfer market, but he has been left with a notably short squad. The Blaugrana are down to just 19 senior players, although it does appear as if Lamine Yamal will end up spending most of his time with the first team too.

In Joao Cancelo, Xavi finally got an experienced right-back, while midfielders Ilkay Gundogan and Oriol Romeu were also key targets. However during his first season he made a major deal of asking that every position was doubled up, allowing him to rotate freely between at least two options.

Cuirrently, Cancelo is the only natural right-back, while Joao Felix is the only natural forward option coming from the left side, with Ferran Torres more comfortable in the middle or on the right. He is also missing another number nine to cover for Robert Lewandowski, although it seems likely that Vitor Roque will arrive in January in order to help out up front.

Several players, including Sergi Roberto, Frenkie de Jong and Ilkay Gundogan, could all cover for Romeu, but neither will Xavi be keen to use them out of their best positions. Hence MD say that when he is looking to rest Romeu, he will likely look to Marc Casado.

🚨 Xavi is set to give Marc Casadó a chance to play as a pivot when the opportunity arises. Casadó has a contract until 2024 with an optional year. Barcelona’s idea is to extend him, although contacts haven’t yet initiated. @gbsans pic.twitter.com/6JueCG3AVx

— barcacentre (@barcacentre) September 12, 2023

The 19-year-old midfielder made his debut as a pivot against Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League group stage last season, and stands out for his positioning and his ability to make the right decisions, especially within the Barcelona system. As soon as Xavi gets a situation given to it, as in a lower tempo game or one where Barcelona are comfortably winning, he will try to blood him into the team.

Casado has a clause in his contract that would allow Barcelona to automatically extend his deal for a further year – it is currently up in 2024 – but instead will look to hand Casado a longer term contract. If he does work out as Romeu’s back-up, it will be a cost-effective solution. Even if he simply proves his quality at La Liga level, then they should be able to recoup some money for him if he has time left on his contract.