Xavi has been talking to reporters ahead of Barcelona’s next match on Sunday against Athletic Club at the Camp Nou in La Liga.
The Barcelona boss spoke about Ernesto Valverde, a host of his players and how he is planning more changes for the game.
Here are the best bits:
Xavi on Athletic
They will be a very difficult opponent, intense, aggressive. Valverde is more offensive than Marcelino. They work very well tactically and will make things very difficult for us. It will be different from Villarreal.
Xavi on rotation
We will make changes because there is fatigue, there is discomfort. I would like to give continuity but we have to prioritize so that the team is at 100%.
Xavi on Dembele
He has a unique talent. He has to try, even if he loses balls, I oblige him to take on defenders one-on-one in attacking areas of the field. This player, he’s different from the others, he’s unique. He has to dribble, try things, cross.
Xavi on Frenkie de Jong
He’s very good in defence. For me he’s a player I like, I like the potential he has. I see that when the game is in front of him he sees it better. You have to play him facing the opposition. We need to get him out there both as an attacking midfielder and as a defensive midfielder but wherever he plays he’s an important player.
Xavi on Marcos Alonso as center-back
The physical profile is important, he wins duels and he’s fast. He chooses the ball out very well and he’s left-footed, which is something important in that position.
Xavi on Ansu
I don’t have starters or substitutes, and even less so with the calendar we have. We have 25 players who have a high level and compete with each other. Everyone must feel important because everyone is useful. Ansu can make the difference.
Xavi on Gavi and Pedri
I want to congratulate Gavi. He deserves it, he’s an extraordinary player. He’s also very unique in his way of playing. He’s very strong in defence and in attack he sees everything. He works behind the lines well, he can score goals, he’s just 18 and he’s marvellous. The way they play, they have a present and future that is extraordinary. They are two guarantees of success in the squad
Xavi on Valverde
I think he was a spectacular coach. He always went out professionally, put on a good performance. He’s an extraordinary person and did excellent work here in Barcelona. He was excellent. I’m not getting involved in the other debates.
Xavi on Pablo Torre
I’d like him to play more, obviously, the other day I wanted to play him and give him some minutes. We thought about it but the situation with niggles and trying to avoid injury meant he had to make certain changes at 3-0. He trains really well, I’m really happy. It’s a difficult situation, it’s patience, but he’s training really well, he’s professional and his moment will come.
Xavi on Pique
He’s well, he’s upbeat, happy, he’s with the group. I made it clear the other day what I think of him. He’s ready to play. He had some minutes, he’s focused and I think he’s doing well
Xavi on Inigo Martinez
Athletic have great defenders, he’s an international with very strong ability, he gets the ball out well, he has a really good character. But not just him, all of Athletic, their defenders are strong, they are very intense, it will be difficult, not just Inigo.
Xavi on resting Pedri
I try to rest as much as I can but he’s fundamental to the way I want to play.He understands the concepts I want, when to attack, when to slow down, he’s very mature, just 19, he’s important. I try to rest him, he doesn’t want to because he’s a player, but we try. This year the schedule is very compact, but we try to rest so he’s 100%.
Xavi on Lewandowski
He generates a lot of goals himself, the goals he scored, he’s spectacular and we all know that. Whether it’s Raphinha, Dembele, Memphis, Ferran, he plays well with whoever he’s playing.
Xavi on Ferran’s confidence
With forwards it makes a difference when they score. Their confidence can drop when they’re not scoring. These last two matches have been good for Ferran. He doesn’t stop working. We value him very highly, the work he does, the pressure he puts on, the chances he makes. We see him as a very high level-player whether he scores or not.
Xavin on Kounde
He can play as a right-back, it depends on the match, injuries, we have some still in defence. We’ll see, it depends on the moment, the situation, whether he plays at right-back or center-back..
Xavi on Franck Kessie
He’s getting got on really well, he’s had moments, but it’s the competition for places. We have a lot of players in that position. He’s training really well. I know it’s difficult for him but he’s being a great professional and I’m sure he’ll get his minutes.