How have Xavi’s tactics revived FC Barcelona with the help of his new signings?

Xavi’s new look Barca has finally arrived.

Despite their financial woes, Barcelona somehow managed to make three signings in the January transfer window. Adama Traore, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ferran Torres completed their move to Camp Nou as the Catalan side lacked the finishing touch and lack of competition between the attackers. Barcelona had their eyes on Raheem Sterling and Edison Cavani going into the transfer window, but they made cheap signings due to the limited wage budget.

Aubameyang was one of the highest earners in the Premier League but due to some personal issues with Mikel Arteta, Aubameyang was dropped from the squad on multiple occasions before stripping him off from captaincy. Adama Traore was a regular starter under Nuno Espirito Santo but since Bruno Lage’s arrival, the Spaniard lost his spot in the starting XI which resulted in a major drop in his playing time.

Traore was on his way to Spurs but sudden interest from Barcelona changed his mind as the Spaniard return to Barcelona on a loan transfer for the first time since 2013. Barcelona sealed the transfer of Aubameyang during the dying minutes of the deadline day. His move was finalised after Barcelona received the letter of contract termination from Arsenal and signed his contract till 2023.

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Ferran Torres reinforced himself under Pep Guardiola and became a proper number ‘9’. Barcelona shifted its focus on Torres due to his Spanish background and previous experience in LaLiga. Barcelona paid the big bucks to Man City as Xavi himself wanted the player to be part of his project. Aubameyang and Traore aren’t the typical signings Barcelona usually go for but the two Premier League outcasts have revived their careers under Xavi.

The winter signings have hit the ground running as the new front three of Barcelona have contributed 15 goals and assists since their debut as the club have enjoyed a seven-game unbeaten run. The Blaugrana have scored 12 goals in their last three games in all competitions completing a major turnaround in front of goal. Xavi is impressed and has praised the new signings as he believes his side would be far worse without them.

Dani Alves also returned to the club as a free agent but Barca wasn’t able to register him till January, making him the fourth winter signing despite training with the team for months. The veteran right-back still has gas left in his tank and has a lot to offer to this group of emerging stars. Xavi’s idea of numerical superiority has worked wonders for him in the past few games but the credit goes to Alves who has stepped up in his role as an inverted full-back.

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To use Jordi Alba’s offensive qualities, Xavi allows him to push forward while Alves forms a back three with the centre-back pairing. This tactic varies from team to team, for example, if Xavi wants to gain numerical superiority in the midfield, Alves joins Busquets as a pivot thus sharing the load of bringing the ball out from the back.

At Al-Sadd, Xavi used his wingers to stretch the pitch to generate spaces to attack. With Dembele and Ansu Fati being injured for the majority of the season, Xavi liked the signing of Traore, whose gameplay perfectly suits Xavi’s profile for a winger. After being not able to achieve the end product in England, the 26-year-old has impressed everyone since his second debut for the club. Xavi’s instructions are working for him as the Spaniard is too hot to handle for defenders.

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Ferran Torres has acquired a new role on the left-wing for Barca and is involved in almost every other move in the attack. Aubameyang sometimes drops into the midfield to create spaces for Ferran and Gavi or De Jong to attack. Barcelona’s tactic of the third man allows Pedri and De Jong to push higher in the attack as a result both midfielders have found their scoring boots under Xavi. Frenkie De Jong has gained his old form in the recent games and looks like a lively figure in the midfield. Pedri is now working his magic in the midfield as the team now looks for Pedri to find a way.

Aubameyang’s pace and versatility offer a variety of choices to the attack. The Gabonese striker likes to get behind defences with his pace and can also play as a winger. Torres, Traore and Aubameyang complement each other very well and also contribute with their defensive duties. Xavi’s counter-pressing allows the team to retain the ball faster in dangerous areas, the team not only attacks but also defends with full force. The club had lost their identity of positional play but in the last five games, Barcelona has not only gained the momentum but are also the favourites for Europa League and a top-four finish.

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