Pep Guardiola has tipped Xavi to be a managerial success at Barcelona in his own right as he distanced himself from comparisons with his former colleague.
Xavi was paraded at Camp Nou in front of around 10,000 supporters on Monday as he was officially presented as Ronald Koeman’s permanent successor.
He is back at the club where he spent 17 seasons during his playing career, racking up 767 appearances across that period – a tally only surpassed by Lionel Messi (778).
The 41-year-old won LaLiga eight times and the Champions League on four occasions before ending his 24-year association with the Catalan giants in 2015.
Six years on, and with two and a half years of coaching experience under his belt at Qatari side Al Sadd, Xavi is back in Catalonia and tasked with turning the tide at struggling Barca.
Xavi thrived under the management of former team-mate Guardiola, whom he described as the best coach in the world during his unveiling on Monday.
𝑀𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑟 X6VI pic.twitter.com/r7Z4Y4fB0L
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) November 6, 2021
But Guardiola, who was among those present at Camp Nou for the presentation, does not want Xavi to be tied down by any comparisons to the club’s successful past.
“I wasn’t the heir to anybody and Xavi doesn’t have to be my heir,” Guardiola said. “If Joan Laporta has chosen Xavi then it’s because there are millions of pros and few cons.
“He knows the club and will bring positive energy, given how he enjoys football and because of his dedication. He always sees the positive side of things.”
“With his class, dedication and effort, I’m sure he’ll improve the club’s situation.”
Guardiola won 14 trophies during an era-defining spell in charge of Barcelona – his first in senior management – before achieving success at Bayern Munich and Manchester City.
Speaking earlier on Monday, when asked about the similarities between himself and Guardiola, Xavi said: “He was a reference for me as a player and a manager.
“I think he’s the best manager in the world. If people want to compare me with him, that’s a positive.”