Legendary midfielder Xavi officially took charge of his first training session as Barcelona manager on Tuesday morning.
The 41-year-old arrived back at his boyhood club where he made a record 767 appearances, only topped by Lionel Messi, with the aim of restoring their former glory during a turbulent period in its history.
Xavi will have a difficult time matching the absurd level of success he achieved on the field for the Blaugrana alongside Messi, having played an integral role in nearly all of the eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues he won.
As a player, he was impossible to dispossess, understood the game better than anyone and rarely misplaced a pass.
That all started when he joined Barcelona’s academy, La Masia (The Farmhouse), as an 11-year-old.
And if an old technical report written by a La Masia coach from when he was 14 is anything to go by, his most renowned qualities were clear before he stepped foot on the Camp Nou grass.
The rediscovered report rated Xavi’s various attributes, ranking his ball control, passing, running and positioning as his greatest assets.
Commenting on his control, the coach wrote: “Excellent. He offsets his lack of speed in movement with exceptional ball control.”
Meanwhile, his positioning was also ranked highly: “Excellent. It is undoubtedly his best quality. He is always where he should be and always offers support and an option for teammates.”
The midfield virtuoso’s major flaw was likewise unsurprising, with the lowest ranked of his abilities all having been his physical traits.
At 5’7, Xavi was never a played that dominated opposition with his athleticism, in contrast to teammates such as Yaya Toure.
The report ranked his flexibility, balance and speed as average, citing it as an area to improve on.
Do you think Xavi is the best central-midfielder to ever play the game? Let us know in the comments section.
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Hilariously, his coach was also not a fan of his running style, writing: “He runs on his heels, his movements are slow and he has trouble picking up speed.”
The other noteworthy flaw in his game was his shooting, which he was encouraged to “improve on when he gets forward in attack, like [Pep] Guardiola.”
It appears he did exactly that as he grew older, netting 85 goals for the Catalan side while Guardiola only managed 11.
Now it is Xavi’s turn to examine the best crop of La Masia youngsters who grace the same pitches he once dominated with technical mastery.
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