Did you know that Xavi was close to leaving Barcelona when he was only 19 years old? He was promoted to the first time, but Barca already had Pep playing on his position.
It was hard for him to challenge a player like Pep Guardiola, especially because Pep was at his peak.
But if it wasn’t for Pep’s injury in 1999-2000 season, maybe Xavi would accepted the Milan deal. But luckily that never happened.
Just after his first season as a starter, he was awarded La Liga Breakthrough Player of the Year. Louis van Gaal didn’t need much time to understand the values of a player like Xavi.
He also won the La Liga Spanish Player of the Year in 2005. But after Frank Rijkaard left, Xavi wanted to leave as well.
Newly appointed coach Guardiola convinced the playmaker to stay, and Xavi rejected the offer from Bayern in 2008.
There’s no doubt that Guardiola is a great coach, but the tiki-taka system was only possible thanks to a player like Xavi.
Xavi is not your typical box-to-box midfielder. He is more than solid in defending, but that isn’t his trademark.
This is his trademark:
Great passing, vision, control or also known as Xavi!
The Maestro is not a type of player that will challenge a defender in one-on-one situation, or even make a hard tackle.
His number one attribute is the awareness of the game. He always knows what to do with the ball, and that’s because he is constantly watching other player’s movements around him:
He isn’t that fast, he doesn’t poses any special dribbling skills, but he still is the hardest player to tackle.
He always finds a way to make sure the opponent player is facing his back. Which means tackling Xavi will be a clear foul.
His incredible passing skills were often witnessed with a bit of attraction to impress the audience. Like this backheel pass for example:
He confused every defender around him with a simple one touch pass. That’s something only a world class player like Xavi is capable of doing.
Back in the old days, players like Claude Makélélé had advantage over players like Xavi. Makélélé was an outstanding player, but as football involved, technically skilful players like Xavi took over the stage.
Spain had huge success with players like Iniesta, Xavi, Silva and Busquets. The world saw how Spain controlled the game with the help of Xavi, and took notice.
This is just one more reason why Xavi deserves his place among the greatest midfielders of all time. His talent and style of play changed the game completely.
The whole Spain nation was blessed for having a player like Xavi in the squad. With one World Cup title and two European Championships, Xavi is one of the most awarded midfielder of all time.
After 17 successful years at the Nou Camp, Xavi left Barcelona with 24 trophies and a gap in the midfielder position that will never be replaced with a player of his caliber!