Barcelona midfielder Xavi has rejected a move to Manchester United, reports Antony Kastrinakis of The Sun (subscription required) (via Danny Griffiths of Metro), a smart decision considering the current Premier League champions' predicament.
Xavi, who this season played in his 700th game for the Catalan club, told Kastrinakis (via Griffiths):
There was always talk United or Chelsea or [Manchester] City or Arsenal wanted to sign me but never anything concrete. I want to be here forever. If I am not at Barcelona, I will always be thinking of Barca. All the big English clubs know getting Xavi is impossible. They know Xavi is fan of Barcelona, he won’t come.
The playmaker amassed 14 assists during Tito Vilanova's tenure last season, per ESPN FC, and he is still regarded as being at the top of his game. However, under new manager Gerardo "Tata" Martino, the midfielder has seen his chances limited.
With appearances less and less likely under Martino's new Barcelona team, Manchester United would have hoped they could have snapped up the magical midfielder with a two-year deal, as reported by Jamie Sanderson of Metro in January.
His latest comments will come as a blow to Manchester United which have needed a creative genius like the Spaniard all season. Despite the recent signing of Juan Mata, the champions have failed to make an impact on the league and endured their eighth league defeat of the season against Stoke City on Saturday.
But a move to a struggling Manchester United side would not have made sense for Xavi. A player with an illustrious career like Xavi has done it all; joining a team on a downward spiral would be a step down.
The Spaniard, now 34 years old, would still easily walk into most European teams, but making a move so late into his career to a club in another league would shorten his career.
At Barcelona, Martino has so many options that he can use Xavi on a "when needed" basis, allowing the manager to rotate between Cesc Fabregas, Alex Song, Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta. This has prolonged Xavi's career and has also allowed him to be fresh for the national team.
Had the midfielder made a move to United, he would have been thrown into the mix straight away because the Red Devils have had problems throughout the season.
Injuries to Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick has left manager David Moyes with Tom Cleverley and makeshift central midfielder Phil Jones. The latter two are neither the creative players that United have been calling out for.
Xavi was previously linked to a move to the MLS in January, as reported by Matt Law of The Telegraph. According to Law, New York City FC were hoping to sign Xavi as their "marquee signing." The club is part of Manchester City's MLS franchise.
Over the years, Xavi has overcome serious injuries, an offer from AC Milan and constant comparisons to former manager Pep Guardiola, per Sergi Font of Marca. But Xavi has always remained loyal to Barcelona, and his rejection of a host of English clubs is testament to that.
The Spanish international midfielder started his career for the club 16 years ago when Dutch manager Louis van Gaal sent him on to make his debut on Oct. 3, 1998.
Since then, Xavi has won the World Cup and two European Championships with Spain whilst being instrumental in Barcelona's rise to dominance in Spain and Europe, including seven La Liga titles and three Champions League trophies.