A midfield duo and a diamond in attack...

6 players Barcelona must build their future around after Xavi’s departure

After just shy of three years in charge, Xavi will leave his post as Barcelona manager at the end of the 2023-24 season, leaving the club looking to reshape for the future once again.

It looked as though Barcelona had just about got themselves back on track with the appointment of a club legend and the emergence of several young stars in the post-Messi era, despite the financial hardship they faced.

La Blaugrana won La Liga in 2022-23, but flattered to deceive once again in Europe and after a dismal defence of their league title, Xavi announced in January 2024 that he would step aside at the end of the season.

With Barca looking for someone new to lead them back to the top, we’ve highlighted the six players they must build the club’s future around, no matter what.

Ronald Araujo

He’s been linked with a move away and Barcelona do need to continue raising money by selling assets, but Araujo is one who should be protected at all costs.

The 25-year-old has quietly developed into the perfect modern defender in Spain, is an absolute monster when it comes to slowing down and stopping attackers from passing him and combines an impressive defensive IQ with a frightening recovery pace.

As Sir Alex Ferguson famous quote goes, attack wins you games, but defence wins you titles. If Barcelona harbour any ambition of being a European giant once again, they cannot even consider selling Araujo to a rival club.

Pau Cubarsi

The youngest player to debut in the Champions League knockout stages at 17 years and 50 days, Cubarsi introduced himself under the lights of football’s most adored competition by locking up Victor Osimhen all night and winning the Player of the Match award as Barcelona advanced to the quarter-final.

Cubarsi is no flash in the pan, either. If his Champions League debut wasn’t enough of an indicator of the wonderkid’s potential, then the fact he’s been fast-tracked from Spain’s under-17 side straight to the senior squad should be.

Losing such a gem – born in Catalonia – would be a crime. Barcelona, Esp. 08th Mar, 2024. FC BARCELONA vs RCD MALLORCA. March 07, 2024 Cubarsí (33) of FC Barcelona during the match between FC Barcelona and Getafe CF corresponding to the twenty eight day of La Liga EA Sports at Olimpic Stadium Lluis Companys of Montjuïc in Barcelona, Spain.

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Frenkie de Jong

It’s mental to think that De Jong actually could’ve already left Barcelona had they not expected Manchester United to cough up the £17million in deferred wages as well as a transfer fee.

La Blaugrana are still yet to pay the Dutchman those wages he’s owed and he does represent value that could make them money in the transfer market, but considering his quality and experience, they’d be better keeping him around.

He might not be the Sergio Busquets regen they hoped for, but he can pick a pass better than most midfielders in Europe, carry the ball through the lines with tremendous ease and has a freakish press resistance.

He also loves the club and the city and at just 26, has his best years still to come.


This would’ve been a no-brainer before a string of injuries, but Pedri’s inclusion these days might turn a few heads.

Bursting onto the scene as a teenager after signing from Las Palmas, Barcelona essentially hung all their hopes on Pedri the minute he broke through in 2020-21.

We’re not sports scientists here at Planet Football, but we reckon the sheer amount of miles he put on the clock at such a young age has something to do with his current injury woes.

He’s only managed 13 starts in La Liga in 2023-24, but at just 21, there’s no reason to give up on such an outrageously talented footballer. In fact, a year or two on the backburner recovering ought to do him and the club the world of good in years to come.

Whatever manager takes up the job at the historic club will be blessed to walk into a squad with Pedri in it. When fit, he’s one of the best in class – and he’s barely old enough to drink.

The future of the club.


Pedri’s struggles from injury have robbed the world of being able to watch one of the most exciting midfield duos flourish on the grandest stage of them all, but at the same time, Gavi has probably benefitted from having to assume more responsibility.

The 19-year-old has long been considered the future of Barcelona’s midfield alongside Pedri, and that hasn’t changed under Xavi.

He’s gone from strength to strength, winning the 2022 Golden Boy award a year after Pedri did, and has already made over 100 appearances for the club.

An absolute must-keep, at all costs and potentially a future captain.

Lamine Yamal

Come on, who else?

At the age of 16, Yamal already has more talent in his little toe than we do as a whole. It’s infuriating – but we’ll let it slide because he’s a joy to watch.

There’s a long way to go for the Spaniard to fulfil his potential – which seems to have no limit right now – and the club must do everything in their power to allow him to develop at the right pace, but there’s no question about it.

He has to remain a Barcelona player no matter what happens over the next few years.

Yamal has already featured 40 times for Barcelona’s first-team and he doesn’t turn 17 until July. The kid is the definition of an unpolished diamond.

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