Barcelona head coach Xavi Hernández has, on Friday, spoken out over the recent controversy surrounding midfielder Ilkay Gundogan.
The name of German international Gundogan has of course taken its place front and centre in the headlines in Catalonia over the course of the last week.
This comes amid suggestions that the summer arrival at Camp Nou has stirred up unrest amongst his team-mates, owing to his comments in the aftermath of last weekend’s Clásico defeat to Real Madrid.
Speaking to the media post-match, Gundogan, whose early opener could not prevent an eventual 2-1 downing, took aim at Xavi’s squad for their reaction:
“I’m coming from the dressing room and after a result like that, I wished to see more anger, frustration or disappointment.
“This is a little bit of a problem, you know? There has to be more emotion, especially when you lose.“
Such comments, it had since been reported, did not go down at all well amongst Barcelona’s stars, unhappy with their new teammate’s outspokenness.
Speaking ahead of his side’s return to action in a La Liga meeting with Real Sociedad on Saturday, the subject of Gundogan’s rant was therefore put to boss Xavi.
The Spanish tactician, however, was quick to play the subject down.
Adamant that the anger of his midfield star was fully justified, Xavi put the disconnect down to ‘cultural’ differences between Germany and Spain:
“Conforming is not part of Barcelona’s DNA. There is a demand for excellence and to win here,” he began.
“Gundogan’s interview was spoken about within the dressing room, he clarified what he meant and there is no problem. No one has to tell us what the demands are at Barça — especially me having spent my whole life at the club.
“We agree with Gündogan and don’t see any controversy. We lost El Clásico because we made mistakes. There was a lack of concentration and we disconnected.
“He expressed the anger we all felt. I could have said it or someone else, but he did because his culture is perhaps different to ours.
“If you see the defeat Bayern [Munich] suffered the other day, the captain came out, [Thomas] Müller, and said something similar. It is cultural.
“There has been no controversy generated in our dressing room. We think the same as Gundogan. This is Barça. That’s the level of demand and excellence here. That is how it is.”
Conor Laird | GSFN