Italy Coach Cesare Prandelli has said Barcelona and Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta is the best player in the world.
Prandelli has made such a statement before and in an interview with Marca prior to the Spain vs. Italy friendly on Wednesday evening, was asked if he still rated Iniesta so highly.
“Iniesta is undoubtedly the best player in the world,” Prandelli replied.
“He has everything: quality, vision, personality, accuracy. Everywhere he is playing, even though he appears surrounded by several rivals, he plays like he’s at home.”
The future of one of Iniesta teammates for club and country, Carles Puyol, has been a major source of discussion in the past 24 hours after the Barca captain announced he was leaving Camp Nou this summer.
Prandelli compared Puyol to the great defenders of Italy’s past and said he will never be forgotten for what he brought to any team of which he was part.
“Puyol has experience, personality, character and determination. He is a leader and as such will always be remembered,” Prandelli said.
“It happened with [Franco] Baresi, [Paolo] Maldini, [Alessandro] Nesta and [Fabio] Cannavaro.”
Prandelli was also asked his thoughts on the calling up of Diego Costa and revealed he has no doubt the Atletico Madrid striker can fit in with La Roja’s style of play.
“On the contrary, he can make Spain even better,” Prandelli insisted.
“This is the charm of great Coaches like [Vicente] Del Bosque, that where others see a problem, he sees another weapon.
“Perhaps many don’t see that Costa marries well with the Spain philosophy but I am convinced he will do just fine. I like the player.”
Prandelli added that he would rather Spain played with an orthodox centre-forward and not a false nine.
“For us the false nine is a headache, because they are attacking midfielders who have the ability to get into the area but also achieve numerical supremacy in midfield.
“It’s hard not to have a reference point for the defenders. Selfishly, I’d rather there be a stationary attacker.”
Prandelli was also asked his thoughts on the goalkeeping situation with Spain, and whether he rates higher Iker Casillas or Victor Valdes.
“For me Iker has been one of the best in the world, with [Gianluigi] Buffon, for many years.
“I’ve always liked [Casillas’] way of being on the pitch as a leader, but also his humility and respect. I think we’re talking about two goalkeepers who can be trusted.”
Prandelli was questioned about two other players – a Spaniard playing in Italy, Borja Valero, and an Italian playing in Spain, Giuseppe Rossi.
“No offence to anyone but Borja is the best midfielder we’ve seen in Italy in recent years. It’s extraordinary [that he’s not in the Spain squad], but the ones who are will be amazing.
“In my Italy we’d always have a place for Valero,” Prandelli admitted.
“We have to wait [for Rossi] because he can give us a big leap in quality. He’s unique in the world when it comes to his role.”