Xavi reignites WhatsApp feud with Barcelona journalist

Xavi Hernandez has reignited his feud with a journalist who called Barcelona the “fool of Europe” after the club progressed to the Champions League quarter-finals.

La Blaugrana impressively saw off Serie A champions SSC Napoli on Tuesday evening, recording a comfortable 3-1 win at Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys after a first leg draw in Naples in February. The victory ensured Barca progressed to the final eight of the Champions League for the first time since the 2019/20 season.

Barca’s form has been patchy during 2023/24, with the club coming under huge pressure following a harrowing European defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk back in November. An article written by El Pais journalist Ramon Besa which labelled Barca the “fools of Europe” was particularly cutting, and something which manager Xavi was keen to bring up after securing a place in the quarter-finals.

“There is too much pressure on the players,” the Spaniard told reporters. “Today it seemed like a heads or tails, an ultimatum, a heads or tails. I told them that no-one was going to die. It was even said that we were the fool of the Champions League. Journalists who say they represent Barcelona. What will we do now with the fool of Europe?”

“People didn’t believe me, they said I was going to lose the dressing room, that they wouldn’t take a step forward. We have received a lot of unfair criticism.”

Xavi HernandezXavi Hernandez

Xavi’s side recorded a big win on Tuesday / Pedro Salado/GettyImages

Besa has since responded to Xavi’s comments to Cadena Ser, revealing details of a heated exchange the pair have previously had on WhatsApp.

“Xavi’s words did not surprise me. I already had a dialogue with him through WhatsApp, not direct,” said Besa. “Xavi himself sent me the article by phone. ‘He told me that I had bad intentions, that from time to time it came out.

“I responded that had he read the article correctly because when I was referring to the fool of Europe I was not referring to Xavi’s team but to Barca, with I don’t know how many defeats in Europe, 2-8… They lost to Antwerp and with Shakhtar Donetsk.

“We can argue about the adjective, whether it can be a fool, the black sheep, or whatever you want. I can make a mistake with an adjective and I accept it. But I don’t accept what he told me that I write in bad faith. There was a warning that it was a much more complex situation than being just about a qualifying adjective.”

“You can argue about that and not about whether I have bad intentions. I am 65 years old and I’ve written articles, match reports, and all of sudden out of the blue I appear as a person with bad faith.”