For a player who came through the Barcelona academy and has adapted to numerous positions for the club, Sergi Roberto can often feel like a scapegoat. Despite having a strong list of big moments in his Barca career – not least the winning goal against Paris Saint-Germain in the famous comeback – there has always been a lingering dislike for the player among the support.
While it can be hard for an outsider to understand, those on the inside seem equally perplexed. The recent return of Xavi as coach at the club has seen the player given a fresh lease of life. However, a contract extension that is unlikely to come and an injury-hit campaign so far has seen fans turn on the player even more than usual.
This led to Xavi launching into a passionate defence of the player. As one of the few players remaining that Xavi had also played with, it is clear he has time for the former academy graduate. The 29-year-old is set to undergo an operation that could keep him out of the first-team picture until April. Given the contract wrangles, that could make it increasingly hard for the player to stay at the club that he grew up supporting.
However, Xavi was clear that if it was up to him then Roberto would not be going anywhere. Given the expected squad turnover to come at the club, too, keeping around academy-trained players who are versatile and dependable is essential.
What did Xavi say about Sergi Roberto?
As Barcelona get ready to face off against another challenge this weekend, Barcelona boss Xavi was clear that he feels the criticism of the player is unjust. The coach also made it obvious that he was happy for the surgery to take place, giving the player the best opportunity to return to the levels that once made him a fan favourite.
Those days might be gone, but for Xavi there is still an enormous amount of respect for the player and what he has accomplished in a Barcelona shirt. Speaking about the players future, Xavi said: It’s a person who is an example to La Masia, for the professionals and he has played almost a year suffering.
“It has been injust with him. He has been criticised, despite being a home player. He has never been 100% and he has tried but has not been able to.”
On the need to go for the surgery that could solve his injury problems, Xavi added: “It was recommended to him that he stops and he has to get sorted. We have to value this player, he is a fundamental player for the team.
“We hope that when he recuperates, he will be happy, that he can perform at his best, and the team needs him.”
For now, then, it looks like a player who has often tested the patience of the fans is someone who ther new coach – the choice of the fans – openly desires.