“Xavi didn’t believe in my abilities” – Ex-Barcelona player tells club to ‘think about other people’s mental health’ after tumultuous exit

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Espanyol forward Martin Braithwaite has hit out at former club Barcelona for the way they treated him, urging the Blaugrana to be more considerate towards people’s mental health. In a revealing interview, Braithwaite also claimed that Xavi never believed in his abilities, paving the way for his premature exit.

Barcelona wanted Braithwaite to willingly terminate his contract (until June 2024) and leave the club as a free agent. The forward refused to do so, demanding his remaining two years’ salary in full. As a result, he was left out of Xavi’s matchday squad for the first three La Liga games of the 2022-23 season.

A deal was ultimately struck between the club and the player on deadline day and his contract was terminated. He joined Barca’s local rivals Espanyol for free, signing a three-year deal. Now an Espanyol player, Braithwaite slammed the Camp Nou outfit for their treatment. Speaking to Danish paper Ekstra Bladet, he said (via the Daily Mail):

“Did I take it as bullying, I actually don’t know.
“But I think it’s important that you always think about other people’s mental health. That’s the way it is. I know how things work in this world. Unfortunately, football is also a business.”
Braithwaite shed light on how his fortunes changed after Xavi took over as manager in November 2021.

The Dane added:

“In many ways, I can only smile a little at all the things that have taken place behind the scenes. I think I have disproved many critics. I was top scorer last season before I got injured.
“But then there was a change of coach, he wanted something else, and that is part of football life. Xavi didn’t believe in my abilities, so I had to leave. I had known for a long time that the coach did not believe in me and that I had to move on from Barcelona.”
Between February 2020 and September 2022, Braithwaite played 58 games for Barca across competitions, scoring 10 goals and claiming five assists.

Xavi’s new-look Barcelona had no room for Martin Braithwaite
Ex-Barcelona forward Martin Braithwaite joined the club in February 2020. A special La Liga rule allowed the Catalans to sign Braithwaite as injury cover for Ousmane Dembele outside the transfer window (via Bleacher Report).

His exit earlier this month was indeed disappointing, but it was hardly unexpected. Over the last couple of seasons, Barca have considerably strengthened their team. They have arguably the best striker in the world, Robert Lewandowski, at their disposal and a very capable Memphis Depay to cover him.

There’s also Ferran Torres, who can comfortably play as a center-forward when needed. With so many highly-rated strikers at their disposal, they had neither the need nor the bandwidth to feed another forward.

At Espanyol, Braithwaite could get a lot more minutes than he did at Barcelona. It will be interesting to see how he goes about making the most of it. So far, he has featured in three La Liga games for Espanyol, scoring twice.

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