Barcelona midfielder Rafinha Alcantara has expressed his delight at Xavi Hernandez’s decision to stay at the Nou Camp next season.
Throughout the summer Xavi has been linked with a move away from the club where he has spent his entire career. First Qatari club Al-Arabi were expected to capture his signature, with coach Dan Petrescu announcing during the World Cup that the 34-year-old had agreed a pre-contract deal with his team.
When that move broke down, new MLS franchise New York City were reported to be in pole position to land the former Spain international, but on Tuesday the main Spanish sports newspapers reported that Xavi had agreed with new Barca boss Luis Enrique to play on for at least one final season. Xavi is expected to report for pre-season on Thursday with fellow internationals Sergio Busquets, Pedro Rodriguez, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba.
And Rafinha, who returns to Barcelona following a successful loan spell working under Enrique with Celta Vigo, is looking forward to learning from Xavi, who has played more than 700 times for the Catalans.
"Xavi is Barcelona, for us it’s great news that he’s staying and I’ll be able to share a dressing room with him," Rafinha told a press conference. "I’m going to learn from the best in the business and I’m delighted that he’s staying. To be able to learn from the best for me is incredible."
The 21-year-old avoided a question about whether Xavi staying at the club would reduce his own chances of holding down a regular place in the first team, responding: "I don’t know, you’d have to ask someone else that question."
However, the player believes he has developed into a better footballer as a result of his loan spell in Galicia and is determined to become as important a member of Enrique’s side at Barcelona as he was at Celta. He added: "It was a very good experience for me and has made me a more mature footballer. Now the most important thing is playing and getting minutes on the pitch."