Bengaluru, October 23: Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez, who currently plies his trade with Qatar's Al Sadd Sports Club, could possibly hang up his boots at the end of the season to take up a different role in life.
The Spaniard has now played more than 100 matches for the former AFC Champions League winners since leaving Barcelona in 2015 and hinted that his playing days are numbered.
"This is 99 per cent my last season because, at nearly 39, it's normal to be tired and need a change of course, " Xavi was quoted as saying in an interview with Corriere dello Sport.
The grapevine is that the 38-year-old would take up a coaching role at Sadd at a later stage. The Spaniard is already taking UEFA's Pro Licence course to become a coach and is also a brand ambassador for the 2022 FIFA World Cup to be held in Qatar.
This year will be Xavi's last year as a player. He then wishes to coach his current team, Al Sadd, before coming to Spain to coach Barcelona.— Barça Centre (@barcacentre) March 20, 2018
Xavi will only coach Barcelona if he's given the job to coach the first team, not the B team and below. pic.twitter.com/iitSxaK68t
When pressed further about retirement plans, the 2010 World Cup winner made his intentions clear, "It's not yet the time for announcements or goodbyes, but I've thought clearly on what I will do."
Xavi's former club Barcelona are set to take on Inter Milan in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday (October 24) in a repeat of the semifinal tie of 2009-10, when the latter triumphed 3-2 on aggregate after a memorable 10-man defensive display at Camp Nou in the second leg.
Mourinho guided Inter to the treble that season before heading to La Liga to take over at Real Madrid.
The Portuguese has come in for criticism later in his career for refusing to embrace a more positive style of football, particularly at Manchester United, who are struggling to keep pace with attacking sides such as Manchester City and Liverpool in the Premier League.
Although Xavi accepts Mourinho teams are tough to beat, he insists he would encourage different tactics if he were to become a head coach after retiring from playing.
"Mourinho is a very defensive coach. Playing against his Inter wasn't easy," the Al Sadd midfielder added.
"That's his style and he put it into practice with Chelsea and Real Madrid. He cares about all the details, he closes the gaps and he doesn't give you space.
"I like a different kind of football. I'm not criticising, but I don't enjoy playing football in that way and my teams will never have that attitude."
Xavi's Al Sadd have their task cut out as they take on Iran's Persepolis in the second leg of the AFC Champions League at Iran's Azadi Stadium on Tuesday (October 23).
The Qatari club had gone down 0-1 at home in the first-leg of the semifinal at Doha's Jassim bin Hamad Stadium.
(With inputs from OPTA and other Agencies)