Xavi Hernandez has reflected on first impressions of Barcelona Coach Gerardo Martino and on comparisons between Sergi Roberto and Thiago Alcantara.
Argentine Coach Martino has recently been brought in as replacement for Tito Vilanova, who has had to step down due to ill health.
Whilst Barca were out in Poland for a preseason test with Lechia Gdansk, Martino opted to stay in Catalonia to work with the squad’s newly returned Confederations Cup representatives in their first few days back.
In that group is included Xavi, who today took to the Pressroom to reflect on his first few sessions under the 50-year-old’s direction.
“We have experienced the sad circumstances of Tito’s relapse, which has been the worst news for the dressing room,” explained the 33-year-old to reporters today.
“Now there is a new Coach. We will try to move on from something that has been hard for the team and adapt.
“He is professional, hard working, humble, who brings tactics and has his ambition intact. We will adapt to him and he will to Barcelona.
“Tito to one side, everything is going well. Martino has shown that he is a proven winner.
“I have spoken to Tata a couple of times. He wants to reach a general consensus and I think we will be fine. The feelings are very good, he is a person that is suitable for everyone. There is a lot of dialogue.
“What is he looking to change? He is trying to improve our intensity that we lost in the final stretch of last season, but also improve the pressure in the attacking half of the pitch.
“Martino’s extra motivation to win is always good. Here arrives a very competitive Coach and we are training hard. But while his winning spirit is contagious, the desire of the team remains intact.”
Barca have also welcomed this week another new face in summer signing Neymar, with attention immediately on his relationship with Lionel Messi.
“Neymar is better alongside Messi and Messi is alongside Neymar. We are delighted with the arrival of Neymar and I believe that he will fit in as quickly as possible.
“He is expected to make a difference because he has the ability in front of goal. If he were to win the Ballon d’Or, then it will be because the team has won. If we help the team, the individual awards are secondary.”
Real Madrid are looking to seal a deal for Gareth Bale this summer.
“I have not seen him play a full game. What he is worth, I do not know. We will see how it ends. Everything now is just rumours.”
This summer saw Barca lose Thiago Alcantara to Bayern Munich at a reduced rate, with the player opting to leave due to competition for places, particularly from Xavi.
“If he has made a mistake or not, we will see in the future. He is a very good player but has decided to leave.
“He has made the decision and it is totally respectable. Barca have lost a player for the future but there are other players like Sergi Roberto who are very valid.
“Comparing the two? They are completely different players. Thiago comes to receive the ball to feet and creates play.
“Sergi is more a box-to-box midfielder, and drives more with the ball, he doesn’t lose balls, he works very well in defence.
“He has an outstanding footballing ability and is a player to be considered and he will be important this season and in the future.”
Rumours also suggest another midfielder in Cesc Fabregas may be leaving, with Manchester United said to be considering making a third bid this summer.
“I see him as relaxed, he has a contract here and everything else is rumours. He is working with the group and I see him as very motivated. These are just rumours. Let’s see what happens, but I see him as clam and ready for the season with Barcelona.”
Barca embark on a ‘Peace Tour’ to the Middle East this coming weekend, where they will host training camps in both Israel and Palestine.
“It is a motivation, knowing that there are many people awaiting our arrival. We will try to get involved in their country and in their culture and try to give the best possible image of ourselves. We will enjoy meeting them as they will us.”
Xavi also commented on the passing of the club’s former goalkeeper Antoni Ramallets.
“Ramallets is a myth of Barcelona and this is a sad day. We will try to pay tribute in the Joan Gamper Trophy game and he will always be remembered as a legend of Barcelona.”