REVEALED: Xavi 'questioned Robert Lewandowski's motivation in a chat with Pepe Reina before Barcelona's clash with Man United' - amid his striker's poor form and doubts over the manager's future
- Lewandowski failed to inspire Barca as they crashed out of the Europa League
- Reports suggest Xavi had concerns about his motivation before facing United
- He is said to have asked ex-Spain team-mate Reina how to motivate the striker
Xavi suggested Robert Lewandowski was lacking motivation to win the Europa League during a conversation with Pepe Reina before Barcelona were dumped out of the competition by Manchester United last week, according to reports in Spain.
Barca suffered a 4-3 aggregate defeat in their play-off round tie against United, with the Premier League club coming from behind to win 2-1 in the second leg at Old Trafford having earned an opening 2-2 draw at the Nou Camp.
It proved a disappointing night for Xavi, whose side took the lead in Manchester when Lewandowski converted from the penalty spot after 18 minutes, only for United to turn the game on its head and progress to the last-16 thanks to goals from Fred and Antony.
And to make matters worse for Xavi, three days after their Europa League exit they were beaten 1-0 away at Almeria in LaLiga, on a night which saw Lewandowski pick up a hamstring injury that will keep him out of Thursday's Copa del Rey semi-final against Real Madrid.
The Poland striker has enjoyed a superb debut season with Barca, scoring 25 goals in 31 appearances so far to help them build up a healthy lead at the top of LaLiga.
Barcelona boss Xavi (R) questioned the motivation of Robert Lewandowski (L) before their Europa League exit at Manchester United, according to reports in Spain
Xavi asked former Spain team-mate Pepe Reina (pictured) how to motivate Lewandowski
The Poland striker could not inspire Barca past United in the Europa League play-off round
claims his motivation was questioned by Xavi during a catch-up with former Spain team-mate Reina last month.
Tras el partido - y con las camisetas de Gavi y Pedri que Reina le pidió a su amigo "Pelopo" como recuerdo- Pepe, entre otros temas, le preguntó al egarense sobre la Europa League, a lo que Xavi le contestó:-"Cómo puedo motivar a Lewandowski para ganar ese título!!?" pic.twitter.com/MvpJ1cCnvw— Dongcast (@JoanFontes) February 27, 2023
After Barca's 1-0 win away at Villarreal, where Reina has spent the last eight months, the Catalans boss is believed to have asked his fellow La Masia graduate how he can inspire Lewandowski to win the Europa League.
Reina reportedly asked Xavi about their chances of going all the way in the competition, to which he replied: 'How can I motivate Lewandowski to win that title?'
Four days later Barca then carried out the first leg of their showdown with United, which ended in a 2-2 draw and without a goal from Lewandowski.
The 34-year-old did score from the spot at Old Trafford, though he failed to do so from open play across 180 minutes of football as Xavi and Co crashed out at the play-off stage.
Xavi's reported concern with Lewandowski may raise questions about his own man management as well as the striker's motivation, especially in light of their second straight defeat over the weekend.
Desperate for a reaction from his players in Thursday's El Clasico with Real, the former midfielder laid into his squad after the loss at Almeria and labelled it their 'worst match of the season'.
Xavi caught up with Reina and asked for his thoughts on Lewandowski after Barca's win at Villarreal last month
His concern with the player's motivation may raise questions about his man management
'This was our worst match of the season. I'm very p****d off. It was too difficult,' he said.
'We weren't there. We weren't inside the match. There are no excuses today. We didn't deserve to win and we have to take responsibility. I'm very p****d off.
'We lacked passion in the first half. In the second half, we tried everything… 3-4-3, Araujo as a striker… Nothing.
'It wasn't meant to be. It was not enough. If we don't change our mental chip now, it will cost us the league title.'
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