Xavi Hernandez has insisted that criticism from the press has hindered Barcelona's recent performances.
Barca narrowly saw off Deportivo Alaves in La Liga on Sunday afternoon thanks to a brace from star striker Robert Lewandowski, but were wholly unconvincing in winning the game - even going 1-0 down in the game courtesy of a first minute goal from Samuel Omorodion.
The performance was yet another which left a lot to be desired by Xavi's side, with Barca recently beating Real Sociedad 1-0 in a "totally unacceptable" outing according to the manager and even losing to Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Champions League in midweek.
Speaking after the win over Alaves, Xavi was keen to insist that criticism his side have received has a negative affect on the squad - particularly on younger players:
“I have zero doubts that the criticism from the press is affecting the team. It happened to me as a player and I can see it now.
“There’s a massive wave of negativity around the team that is harming us. The criticism does not affect me, it affects the players. I can see it in their faces.
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“Above all it affects the younger ones. You see Inigo [Martinez], Lewandowski, [Joao] Cancelo, [Ilkay] Gundogan and it doesn’t affect them. But there are a lot of young people and we have to protect them.”
Xavi also admitted that the in-game mistakes his team are making is "generating an insecurity among the players", citing Gundogan's sloppy play in the lead up to Alaves' opener as an example of this:
"Gundogan lost a ball he would not normally lose and there is a transition. We can't allow these mistakes. It is unacceptable.
"We are gifting teams too many things. We have dropped points at Mallorca, Granada...we are giving too much away and it's generating an insecurity among the players that is not good."