Spanish club Barcelona have named a quartet of its La Masia youth academy products as prospective captains for the 2014/15 season.
Departed goalkeeper Victor Valdes played the role last season in the absence of the ‘Baulgranas’s’ long-term skipper Carles Puyol, who retired this summer. But with the Spanish goalkeeper deciding not to renew his contract at the Camp Nou, which expired in the middle of 2014, the onus fell on new coach Luis Enrique to name a skipper in his first season in charge.
The club has therefore announced Sergio Busquet, Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta to share the armband this season.
Xavi, 34, would assume immediate responsibility of the leadership role, after serving as second captain for the last six seasons- in between Puyol and Valdes.
The club said in its statement: “The result of a vote between all of the members of the first team squad on Tuesday to nominate the four captains for the 2014/15 season was announced on Thursday. Xavi Hernández, Andrés Iniesta, Leo Messi and Sergio Busquets, in that order, are the chosen players.”
#photo These will be the four captains in the 2014/15 season pic.twitter.com/6KTVbYEpgN
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) August 7, 2014
Only Messi, 27, and Busquet, 26, are newcomers to the role, but neither of them are novice, having being selected as leader of the team on scarce occasions.
Iniesta, 30, who consequentially becomes the second captain, had earlier told reporters he would relish the opportunity of leading the Catalans as they seek to reclaim the Primera Division title from Atletico Madrid.
Speaking with Spanish daily sport newspaper El Mundo Deportivo last month, the midfielder said: “Moments like these make you feel both proud and happy.
“For those of us who’ve been in the first team for a long time and come through the ranks at the club, captaining the first team is a lifelong dream, another step in your career, and proof that you’re still improving as a player.
“Although, on the flipside, it means you’re getting older.”
After retiring from international football to focus on Barcelona, legendary midfielder Xavi will immediately set his focus on leading the squad through the tunnel when Elche visit the Nou Camp in the opening weekend of the new La Liga season.