FC Barcelona head coach Xavi Hernandez took a dig at the media during his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s La Liga clash with Real Betis.
The manager was probed on how to handle teenage phenomenon Lamine Yamal, who debuted against this weekend’s opposition as a 15-year-old last season while having started Barca’s last three games in 2023/2024.
Lamine Yamal also played for Spain over the international break, smashing La Roja’s youngest goalscorer and appearance maker records, and there are concerns that he could burn out amid constant injuries being picked up by the likes of Pedri and Ansu Fati who also rose to stardom young.
Xavi balked that Lamine Yamal’s case was “curious”, “because three weeks ago you [the media] told me that I didn’t dare to put him in and now you tell me that he must rest”.
“We will take care of him, pamper him and treat him as one more – even though he is 16 years old. We will work with him and Bojan’s role will be important.
“He will have first-team dynamics. We will take care of him and he can still be very important. He has a head, personality and talent,” Xavi added.
Barca have been out of action for almost a fortnight. But with his men facing an action packed schedule for the rest of September and in early October until the next set of international fixtures, Xavi has vowed that there will be rotations.
“Not because of our ideas, but out of necessity. [Because of] the physical level,” Xavi clarified.
“In 22 days there are seven matches and everyone will participate. There is a squad for that and the calendar demands it. Some will be protected tomorrow. There will be rotations and changes,” he reiterated.
As for Vitor Roque, whose arrival in January has reportedly been scuppered by Financial Fair Play issues, Xavi said that sporting director Deco told him the Brazilian will still land on schedule.
“We will see in January, but in principle there will be no problem. We’ll see [what] the circumstances [are].”
By beating Betis at home, Barca have the chance to head to the top of the league for the first time this season prior to current leaders Real Madrid taking on Real Sociedad in the late Sunday evening game.