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XAVI HERNANDEZ TALKS ABOUT MESSI, MARADONA AND MASCHERANO

In a lengthy interview with La Nacion, football legend Xavi HERNANDEZ spoke about a number of topics regarding Lionel MESSI and the Argentina National Team.

Xavi HERNANDEZ has done it all. Multiple time European champion with Spain, a World Cup winner, several Champions League medals, in short, he had an illustrious career. He also spent most of his playing years alongside Lionel MESSI and even several seasons with Javier MASCHERANO. When asked about the two and the comparisons between Lionel MESSI and Diego MARADONA, he didn’t hold back. Here’s what he had to say:

About how MESSI does what Xavi did, playing, organizing…

“MESSI CAN DO WHAT XAVI DOES, WHAT RAKITIC DOES, WHAT BUSQUETS DOES, WHAT INIESTA DOES, WHAT SUAREZ DOES. HE DOES EVERYTHING WELL THIS KID. IF YOU PUT HIM IN THE MIDDLE, HE CAN BE THE BEST CENTRAL MIDFIELDER IN THE WORLD. IF HE WANTS TO TAKE THE BALL OFF YOU, HE’LL STEAL IT OFF. IF HE FEELS LIKE DRIBBLING YOU, HE’LL DRIBBLE YOU. IF HE WANTS TO GIVE A PASS, HE’LL GIVE THE BEST ASSIST IN THE WORLD. IF HE TAKES A FREE KICK, HE’LL PUT IN AT THE RIGHT ANGLE. HE’S A FOOTBALLER THAT CANNOT BE COMPARED TO ANYONE. HE’S LIKE MARADONA WAS IN HIS TIME, HOW PELE WAS IN HIS TIME. HE’S THE BEST PLAYER IN HISTORY.”

Joking about how the only position that is safe is that of goalkeeper TER STEGEN:

“EXACTLY. HE’S A MOLD ON HOW TO PLAY FOOTBALL, HE’S GREAT. FURTHERMORE, HE IS COMPETITIVE, A WINNER, A HARD WORKER, GENEROUS WITH THE TEAM. HE SHINES IN EVERYTHING HE DOES. WE HAVE TO ENJOY HIM UNTIL HE CAN’T PLAY ANYMORE BECAUSE THERE WON’T BE ANYONE ELSE OF HIS LEVEL.”

On if he thinks he or INIESTA should have won the 2010 Ballon d’Or:

“NO, NO, NO. AT THE MOMENT, WHEN GUARDIOLA TOOK THE PAPER OUT AND READ MESSI, I HAD A FEELING OF JUSTICE. SIMPLY BECAUSE MESSI IS THE BEST. BETTER THAN INIESTA, XAVI, BUSQUETS. WHY? BECAUSE HE DOMINATES EVERYTHING HE DOES. MESSI CAN DO WHAT XAVI DOES BUT XAVI CANNOT DO WHAT MESSI DOES. AND THE SAME FOR THE REST OF THE PLAYERS. IT’S FOR THAT REASON THAT THE BALON D’OR IN 2010 DIDN’T HURT. THE TRUTH IS, WE SHOULD GIVE IT TO HIM EVERY YEAR.”

On MESSI and the Argentina National Team:

“HE FEELS VERY ARGENTINE, HE IS VERY PATRIOTIC ABOUT HIS COUNTRY. HE HAS THE HUNGER AND THE NECESSITY TO WIN WITH ARGENTINA. FOR HIM, IT’S AN ENORMOUS FRUSTRATION HAVING NOT WON, THE TRUTH IS IT’S NOT JUST HIS FRUSTRATION BUT THE ENTIRE GENERATION OF ARGENTINE FOOTBALLERS THAT HAVE HAD BAD LUCK IN KEY MOMENTS. TO LOSE TWO COPA’S AMERICA BY PENALTY SHOOTS, A FINAL OF THE WORLD CUP IN EXTRA TIME, OUF. IF FOOTBALL WAS FAIR, ARGENTINA IS OWE SOMETHING. THIS GENERATION OF FOOTBALLERS DESERVES TO WIN SOMETHING. WE WILL SEE AT THE WORLD CUP IN RUSSIA, ARGENTINA, NO DOUBT ARE ONE OF THE FAVORITES. I BELIEVE SAMPAOLI WORKS REALLY WELL AND HAVING MESSI AND THAT ENTIRE GENERATION, ARGENTINA HAVE A LOT OF CHANCES OF BEING CHAMPIONS.”

On if Argentina have taken advantage of MESSI the way Barcelona have:

“YES, FOR SURE BUT AT THE SAME TIME IT IS UNFAIR TO SAY THAT BECAUSE THEY HAVE REACHED FINALS AND FINALS ARE WON ON DETAILS, KEY MOMENTS. WE WON A WORLD CUP IN 2010 BUT HAD ROBEEN SCORED OFF HIS SHOT, THE ONE THAT CASILLAS SAVED WITH HIS FOOT, WE WOULD NOT BE TALKING ABOUT SPAIN WINNING ANYTHING. IT’S A VERY FINE LINE BETWEEN WINNING AND LOSING. ARGENTINA HAVE THE BAD LUCK THAT SPAIN HAD BEFORE, WHEN WE WOULD GET ELIMINATED OFF PENALTYES, WHEN THE REFEREE WOULD MAKE A MISTAKE OR IT WASN’T OUR DAY.”

On how people think MESSI has to win a World Cup to be at the same level as MARADONA:

“FOR ME, HE’S NOT MISSING IT, HE’S ALREADY THE BEST IN HISTORY, I HAVEN’T SEEN ANYONE BETTER THAN HIM. I UNDERSTAND THE TALK ABOUT MARADONA, HE WAS AND IS EVERYONE’S IDOL. BUT THERE ARE PEOPLE THAT SAY MESSI HAS NOT DONE WHAT MARADONA DID. I UNDERSTAND THAT, BUT ON A FOOTBALLING LEVEL, MESSI HAS DONE EVERYTHING MARADONA DID 30 YEARS LATER, IN 2018 IT COSTS TWICE AS MUCH, FROM THE TACTICAL POINT OF VIEW, PHYSICALLY, TECHNICALLY AND MENTALLY, ALL THE FOOTBALL PLAYERS ARE BETTER. AND THE SAME THING WILL HAPPEN 30 YEARS FROM NOW, FOOTBALLERS WILL BE BETTER BECAUSE LIVE EVOLVES. FOR ME, THERE’S NO DEBATE; MESSI IS THE BEST PLAYER I HAVE SEEN IN HISTORY. AND AFTER THAT COMES MARADONA.”

On if 2018 is the last World Cup for Lionel MESSI:

“NO, I SEE HIM BEING CAPABLE OF GETTING TO QATAR 2022 BECAUSE PHYSICALLY HE TAKES CARE OF HIMSELF MORE. TECHNICALLY SPEAKING, HE WON’T LOSE HIS TALENT. AT 35 OR 36, HE CAN GET THERE PERFECTLY, WHY NOT? IT WOULD DEPEND ON HIM, HIS MENTALITY, HIS EAGERNESS TO CONTINUE. AND ALSO WHAT HAPPENS AT THE WORLD CUP IN RUSSIA, I WOULD THINK.”

On what he thinks of Javier MASCHERANO:

“HE’S A FRIEND LIKE MESSI. WE HAVE A FRIENDSHIP, I HAVE A LOT OF RESPECT AND LOVE FOR HIM. MASCHERANO IS A NATURAL LEADER, A PERSON THAT TRANSMITTED A LOT TO BARCELONA. HE WAS AN EXAMPLE ON HOW TO CONDUCT YOURSELF, HOW TO ADAPT TO A NEW LIFE AND A NEW STYLE OF PLAYER; IT WASN’T EASY FOR HIM AT FIRST. JAVI WAS AN EXAMPLE, ON AND OFF THE PITCH TO ANYONE WHO ARRIVED TO THE TEAM. WITHOUT WEARING THE CAPTAIN’S ARMBAND, THE LAST FEW YEARS, HE WAS A CAPTAIN FOR BARCELONA. I WISH HIM ALL THE BEST IN HIS NEW LIFE IN CHINA.”

On Argentina and Jorge SAMPAOLI:

“I BELIEVE ARGENTINA HAVE WON A LOT WITH SAMPAOLI, HE’S A COACH WHO HAS VERY CLEAR IDEAS, IS PREPARED AND WORKS WELL. HIS TEAMS HAVE AN IDENTITY. WE SAW HIM WITH SEVILLA AND CHILE, WHERE HE DID GREAT THINGS. HE HAS A GREAT WAY OF TRANSMITING THINGS. I BELIEVE THAT THE IDENTITY AND IDEAS THAT SAMPAOLI WILL GIVE THE GROUP WILL BE VERY GOOD. AND HE HAS MESSI, HE’S ALREADY A FAVORITE FOR THE TITLE. AND IF WITH THAT YOU HAVE ALL THE GOOD PLAYERS THAT ACCOMPANY HIM AND A COACH CAPABLE OF LIFTING THE TEAM, ARGENTINA ARE TOTAL FAVORITES.”

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