sport

Al-Arabi in race to sign Xavi

Al-Arabi coach Dan Petrescu claims Barcelona playmaker Xavi has signed a pre-contract agreement with the Qatari club.

The 34-year-old, who has made 474 appearances in his one-club career, is currently in Brazil as Spain look to defend their World Cup title, but speculation over his club future is rife.

Xavi's stay with Barcelona was thrown into question following the appointment of Luis Enrique as head coach and reports now suggest he could follow Chelsea-bound Cesc Fabregas through the Nou Camp turnstiles this summer.

Barcelona director of football Andoni Zubizarreta and president Josep Maria Bartomeu met with Xavi's agent on Tuesday and it is reported there will be little resistance to a move from the club.

Doubts over Xavi staying increased further on Wednesday, with former Chelsea player Petrescu claiming the Spain international has signed a pre-contract deal with Al-Arabi.

\"Xavi has signed a pre-contract agreement,\" he told Digisport. \"It's likely he will join us but he also has other offers.\"

Xavi has been linked with a move to the USA or Qatar, and Petrescu admits Al-Arabi are desperate to win the race for the influential midfielder's signature.

\"When you get the chance to sign someone like Xavi, you make the most of the opportunity,\" he added. \"I've talked to him personally and he is an extraordinary man.

\"If we miss out on him, we have other big names lined up. But Xavi is who I really want and Al-Arabi are ready to pay him €8million (6.4m) a year.\"