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Atletico stars, Simeone take 70% pay cut

Atletico Madrid

Bartomeu: Barca can still sign big-name players

 By Ian Holyman

Xavi: I want to become Barcelona coach when my playing career ends

Xavi has hit the ground running in Qatar with Al Sadd.
Xavi Hernandez joined Al Sadd from Barcelona in 2015.

Barcelona legend Xavi has told L'Equipe he hopes to follow in the footsteps of former teammates Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique and coach the club one day.

Xavi helped Barcelona to three La Liga titles and two Champions League wins in a breathtaking four-year spell under Guardiola.

He then won a further Champions League and La Liga title under Luis Enrique in his final season before moving to Qatari club Al-Sadd in 2015.

The midfielder intends to play until 2018 but has plans for when he hangs up his boots.

"My aim is to arrive as a coach at Barcelona," he said. "You never know what will happen, it's not only up to me.

"It depends on what you're capable of, the situation, the moment, the circumstances. But my objective, what I want to do, it's certain that it's to work for FC Barcelona."

The former Spain international combines playing with doing coaching work with Qatar's under-23 side, and said the 2022 World Cup in the country was "a very interesting project."

Xavi said he was a disciple of the sort of football advocated by Barcelona great Johan Cruyff, adding that he was not a fan of the counter-attacking approach employed by Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid.

"I would not have had as much fun [playing that way]," he said. "But I see his players enjoy themselves, and that's Simeone's talent.

"He deserves a lot of credit, but it's not my style, even if he's changing it a little bit."

He added that he enjoyed the football being played by Barca's arch-rivals Real Madrid under Zinedine Zidane, saying: "When his team has the ball, I like it.

"It's uncomplicated football, going forward directly with a lot of players attacking from midfield and up front, the full-backs pushing up.

"In defence, perhaps he's more Italian because he grew up there as a player."

He said what had set Barcelona apart was the presence of Lionel Messi, explaining: "I don't think there will be another like him.

"He does everything well -- he defends well, he attacks well, he dribbles well, he's good in the two-on-ones, he passes well, he heads well, he takes great free kicks, he's a goal scorer, he makes assists."

"He's a marvel, that boy. For me, he's the best player in history, without any doubt."

Ian is ESPN's French football correspondent. Twitter: @ian_holyman


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