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Dario Felman column: Xavi should leave Barcelona now; what I've heard about Enzo & Chelsea; exciting Valencia kids

In his latest column for, Valencia and Boca Juniors legend Dario Felman examines Xavi's announcement that he'll leave Barcelona at the end of the season. He also explains Federico Redondo's move to Inter Miami, discusses Ruben Baraja's Valencia kids and tells us what he's heard about Enzo Fernandez and Chelsea...


The last time we spoke in depth about FC Barcelona…they had won LaLiga with Xavi! These days, the league title holders are a much lesser team and that is despite the fact that the manager has made new signings.

He has not found the harmony in the team that he has been seeking to manage this season. It's a team without 'rumbo'(direction). For example, they might be winning 2-0 in a match but they end up losing it 3-2! This is just not a natural situation for a team like FC Barcelona. The open secret is that the club is in debt and there are a large number of other factors that is affecting the team on the football pitch. In part, Xavi was mistaken to announce that he is leaving the club at the end of the season. He should have left his position immediately to allow the players to breathe fresh air.

In my opinion, Xavi has been mistaken in thinking that the team is somehow going to react to as a footballing unit on the pitch now that they are conscious that Xavi is leaving at the end of the season. I believe that the reaction of the players has been more on an individual level, to a greater or lesser extent. Indeed, some of them are taking on board the idea that they are the ones who have to react on the pitch and that they are the ones who are responsible for the results and the possibility of turning the situation around.

However, the reaction of the players has not been really consistent since the news broke. Xavi is still in his position as a manager because FC Barcelona just cannot afford to sack him…they don't have the money! Xavi was mistaken to argue with the Catalan press who criticized him that the team was not working. He was a really great player and wants to be recognized and respected as a great manager but the team is just not really working this season. You just cannot be about 10 points behind Real Madrid in LaLiga when you are FC Barcelona; it's just not possible in Spain.


On merit, from a footballing point of view regarding his work at Girona FC…Michel would deserve this chance. Everybody dreams of managing either FC Barcelona or Real Madrid or the national side. You become a manager with the hope of the reaching the very top of your profession. There are possibilities but I do not believe that this actual team needs Michel.

FC Barcelona as a team needs a manager who knows the club and has personality and authority and the final word too. I do see Tuchel as a possible successor at FC Barcelona. He has prestige, he has managed the top clubs too and is hard-working and has personality and is a leader. However, I would prefer not to say it but Mourinho also comes to my mind… but I would prefer not to shout about it…given that Mourinho managed Real Madrid before.

So, I do not see that option as particularly likely in terms of managing FC Barcelona in the future. However, in the world of football you never know…


Federico Redondo is a great player with technical skill. He has height and presence on the pitch, much like his father! I believe he would be right for the Premier League, given the order that English football has and its physicality too. However, what is impeding this move to England is Redondo's desire to play alongside Messi…which he has publicly admitted to.

He wants to play alongside Messi for all that that would symbolize…and time is running out for Messi and Redondo is aware that it is a question of now or never.

Redondo is a very interesting player. I see him playing in the Premier League in the future if he wants to demonstrate his true quality as a great footballer. The Major League Soccer (MLS) is still a 'B' (secondary) league in comparison to the English Premier League.


Enzo Fernandez should not be thinking about leaving Chelsea. The fact that Chelsea have paid so much money for him (about 125 million euros) and the fact that he arrived in London as a World Champion and then there was a change of manager and a lot of inner turmoil at the club means that he has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders.

If I'm not mistaken, Enzo Fernandez is Chelsea's most expensive signing in their entire history. He is being singled out by some as the one who should be the club's “saviour" (given his price tag) and that just isn't fair on him. He is a spectacular player and has played plenty of matches too. The manager needs to be talking to him more. Enzo defends well and attacks even better and can play anywhere in midfield. He is a really interesting player and I believe his mission is to prove himself as a footballer at Chelsea…despite interest from FC Barcelona.

Although he is World Champions and a fantastic player, I don't think even he believed the price tag that was put on him. He just wants that his club manager and the Chelsea team get behind him and to stay at Chelsea and do what he does best, which to play good football…nothing more and nothing less. He wants to triumph at Chelsea because they have shown faith in him and invested a lot of money in him too.


I think you will find that nothing is going to happen regarding Real Madrid. They are a club that creates a lot of money in Spanish football and Javier Tebas, the LaLiga president, sure does love money! It's an opinion that Tebas has aired and little more than that…it will have about as much effect as the man in the street airing an opinion about Real Madrid. Indeed, in the past, Tebas has admitted that he is actually a fan of Real Madrid and Florentino Perez.

Real Madrid has a lot of power, it always has. Money talks and Real Madrid TV is not presented by real sports journalists…they're rabid, die-hard fans of the club! No-one objective about football is allowed to be involved with Real Madrid TV. In their twisted minds, Real Madrid have to win all the matches they play… even it is in the 90th minute and they are awarded a dodgy penalty! I have a lot of respect for real sport journalists but these “journalists" are just fans of Real Madrid. Florentino Pérez has given them the liberty to be outspoken because they are saying what he wants to hear!

He is paying them and, on top of that, Real Madrid TV is generating plenty of money. I'm not sure that FC Barcelona TV closing down was a mistake as a business has to generate money…and it just was not profitable in the end. It's a shame that a club of Barcelona's stature had to close their television channel down but if the money isn't there…nothing more can be done.


It's been about year and half since Ruben Baraja took over as manager and it is the best decision that the club has made when they contracted him as the then new 'entrenador'.

Baraja knew what to expect and knew it was going to be difficult. Indeed, the team suffered last season and nearly got relegated and it went to the final match against Betis for Valencia to stay up! Important players (on loan to Valencia) like Lino and Kluivert went back to their respective clubs at the end of last season…and we have really missed their influence and presence this season. Both players wanted to stay at Valencia but Lim didn't want to invest a penny in either of them.

However, Baraja is also conscious that if things go well this season he has plenty to gain and things are looking pretty good this season.

Regarding Javi Guerra, he is a very interesting player and he would succeed in the Premier League. He's done a lot in just one year and brought a lot to the team. He's brought youth to the side and has been able to handle the heavy baggage of performing for a big club in a top league. He has some incredible faculties as a player already and is somebody who can play anywhere in midfield. He attacks well; he knows how to score and hits the ball really well too. He is not a born defender but he is capable of getting "stuck in" when needs be. He knows when to get back and help the team. He's a lad that has taken on the responsibility he's been given with flying colours and he believes in the manager too. The dressing room of Valencia CF is now of full of young lads who are giving a lot to the club and were “unknowns" a year ago! Mosquera, Diego Lopez, Guerra…they are spectacular players…we are talking about lads who are just 19, 20, 21 years old!

Baraja has shown the intelligence and bravery to listen to the managers who work in the Valencia Sports Academy (“La Cantera Valenciana") with the younger players and Baraja has cherry-picked six or seven of these players to play in LaLiga with the big boys…which is not a typical situation. However, the squad is lacking depth and you cannot expect these young players to get it right in every match.

The budget of this Valencia CF side is very low but Valencia are doing what they have to do and showing faith in their young players and other teams are starting to copy them.. The possibility of Valencia qualifying for Europe this season is there too. If the club does not sell their young players, they will have a spectacular side in 3 years' time. Fran is great and Mosquera is really growing as a defender, he is fast, a great header and he hits the ball well too…he is phenomenal. Javi Guerra is already very special too. He has all the right conditions to be a really outstanding player. Baraja is going to get the best out of Guerra and it is going to be exciting to see how Valencia CF grows as a team in the coming months.

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Dario Felman
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Dario Felman


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