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Xavi praises Barca for saving their season as Dembele’s potential

Xavi praised Barcelona for rescuing a season that “could have been worse,” but he expects the Blaugrana to improve next season, with Ousmane Dembele perhaps playing his final game for the club on Sunday.

Xavi was named as Ronald Koeman’s replacement, with Barcelona wallowing in ninth place in LaLiga following a disappointing start to the 2021-22 season.

On the other hand, Xavi has re-energized Barcelona, who are now second in the league, 13 points behind winners Real Madrid, with one game remaining.

Barca finished their season at home against Villarreal, and with second place already secured, Xavi lauded his team’s recovery but challenged them to improve in order to fight with Real Madrid next season.

He told reporters at a pre-match news conference on Saturday:

“We have saved a situation that could have been worse.

“We have gone from less to more. And we have completed, but it has not given us any reward. We have to win titles.

“I don’t give myself a grade because whatever is said will be criticised. We have improved a lot. I am the first to demand more from myself. From now on, we will look to improve further.

“We have to improve in every way – psychologically, physically, which we have already improved, and reinforce the squad with two players per position. And also tactically, so everyone understands our ideas.”

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Xavi praises Barca for saving their season as Dembele's potential

The game against Villarreal could prove to be Dembele’s last at Camp Nou as contract negotiations remain ongoing.

Bayern Munich and Chelsea are keen on the World Cup-winning winger, whose 11 LaLiga assists in 2022 is more than any other player has registered across Europe’s top five leagues.

Blaugrana president Joan Laporta has reiterated his desire to keep the France international at Barca.

And Xavi hailed Dembele for his efforts in the second half of the season.

He said of the former Borussia Dortmund player:

“It could be the last. However, you have to be optimistic. He has played excellent games.

“And when he has not been involved, we have noticed”

Barca has won their last five games against Villarreal in LaLiga and could register six wins in a row against them for the first time in the competition.

However, Xavi expects a challenging task when his team host Unai Emery’s side, who made it to the Champions League semi-finals this season, where Liverpool defeated them.

“The result will be important. I would like to see a team with good feelings bravery and finish with the best feelings,” he continued.

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Xavi praises Barca for saving their season as Dembele's potential

“Villarreal is the best team we have faced. They have a lot at stake and are a difficult opponent. You have to have a personality that the fans come to enjoy. There will be chances,, and it will be a good show.”

Barca has confirmed Ronald Araujo will return to the squad after recovering from a head injury that caused him to spend a night in hospital following the game against Celta Vigo on May 10.

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