If there’s one player which has summed up every value FC Barcelona pride themselves on then it is the first of our #TalkingXI centre midfielders. An example of industry and ability working in tandem, this 32 year old is among the greatest the game has ever seen. Barcelona are more than a club and in this diminutive playmaker they have more than a player.
He’s enjoyed 13 years at the Catalan giants. He may only have started dominating your conscience in the last six years after a relatively subdued emergence in the top team – things weren’t quite as rosy for Barca when he came to the fore between 1998 and 2004 – but the truth is he’s always been different class.
Goals aren’t his bag. Hitting double figures for a season just twice in his career show that, but it’s the way he makes his team-mates play, the way he energises the team as a whole and inspires those around him to excel which makes him so impressive. You’d be hard pressed to find someone outperform him. Even Claude Makelele in his prime couldn’t stop the mercurial midfielder from patiently probing his way around your team.
He’s the epitome of the modern-day pass-master, the understated focal point of a Barcelona team who owe an unbelievable amount to Lionel Messi, but a great deal more to the genius of the six-time La Liga title, three-time Champions League, two-time European Championship and one-time World Cup winner, Xavi Hernandez.
With Andres Iniesta, his brother from another mother, already in the team then it’d be crazy to leave out the Barcelona and Spain legend. He’s still in prime form, Tito Vilanova and Vicente Del Bosque’s insistence on playing him regularly shows that, and in Xavi we have the ideal man to lead the engine room of the #TalkingXI team.
Here’s some of the experts and voters telling you why:
“Xavi - the only guy other than Zinedine Zidane who has made football look so artistic and graceful.” – Andy Nelson, @SmartArseCahnt
“You’ll struggle to find anyone who doesn’t like him. Underrated for so long, but finally getting the credit he deserves. Without Xavi, would Iniesta and Messi be so good? I doubt it!” - Jonny Boyle, Talking Baws Editor, @beanroll