Brazil ask Xavi to become manager after 2022 World Cup but Barcelona legend rejects shock offer

IF the Brazil FA had it their way, then Barcelona legend Xavi would be next manager of the national team.

Reports claimed that the Brazil FA made an offer to the former midfield maestro, who is the manager of Qatar Stars League club Al Sadd.

He was to join the national team coaching staff now, with a view to taking over as head coach after the next World Cup. However, he turned down the offer.

It is understandable if he thought that it was far too soon in his coaching career to be thinking of such a high pressure job in a country that he barely knows.

The move, though, does illustrate an interesting change of views by the Brazilians.

Some 18 months before the 2014 World Cup Mano Menezes was sacked as Brazil coach.

Pep Guardiola was taking a year off at the time, living in New York. He made it public that only one job could make him interrupt his sabbatical – the chance to coach Brazil.

Back then, the Brazil FA moved quickly to stop his campaign building momentum.

They hired Luiz Felipe Scolari, who had won the World Cup back in 2002 – but cannot look back on the 2014 campaign with any pleasure.

While a Guardiola disciple decides to stay where he is, another ambitious one is on the move.

One of the most important goals in Guardiola’s coaching career came against Chelsea just over 12 years ago.

It was the second leg of the semi final of the 2008-9 Champions League.  Guardiola was in his first season in charge of Barcelona, who seemed on their way out of the competition until, right at the end, Andres Iniesta fired home from the edge of the area.

On the touchline Guardiola erupted. In the midst of the celebrations, reserve left back Sylvinho went over to him.

Barcelona still had some substitutions to make, and Sylvinho made the point that they could eat up some of the few remaining seconds by using them.

While Guardiola was reacting like a fan, the former Arsenal defender was already thinking like a coach.

It was clear that Sylvinho was going to go into coaching when his playing days were done.

He was assistant with Corinthians, and filled the same role with the Brazil national team – and then in 2019 came the call from Lyon.

Sylvinho became the first Brazilian in a while to take charge of a team in the group phases of the Champions League, but it did not last. Results were disappointing and he was soon on his way.

Now he has another coaching job. On Sunday he was announced as the boss of Corinthians – Sao Paulo giants who have had a hard time paying for their new stadium, built for the 2014 World Cup, and are trailing well behind local rivals Palmeiras and Sao Paulo.

He played for the club in the 90s, and was assistant 15 years later. But in the club’s time of need he was not the first choice for the job, or even the second choice.

Other coaches were daunted by the size of the challenge. Sylvinho could hardly refuse.

At the age of 47, time is still on his side, but not for long. He needs to impress, to dismiss talk that he lacks charisma, that he is a better number two than a number one.

And there is no time for bedding in, no honeymoon period. The Brazilian league, one of the most competitive in the world, kicks off at the weekend.

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