Cruyff on Barca, Messi and Xavi

Johan Cruyff has offered his opinions on Barcelona, the appointment of Luis Enrique, Lionel Messi’s role and the future of Xavi Hernandez.

Marca reports that the former Barca player and Coach spoke to Cadena Cope on a range of topics, beginning with former Barca boss Tata Martino and later touching on the World Cup.

“He did what he could. I thought he was a very nice man and the players were quite happy with him,” Cruyff said.

“I can’t describe what happened because I don’t know.”

On the subject of Martino’s successor, Cruyff advised Enrique to be his own man, adding it was inevitable that Lionel Messi would be the centrepiece of Barca.

“He’s someone who likes the straight line and work and I hope he is strong enough to make his own decisions,” he said.

“Coaching a team is very difficult and sometimes I get the feeling that people aren’t aware of it. But he knows.

“Leo always has to be the important piece, that’s pure logic.

“But if things aren’t going well it’s also logical that people look for someone to take more responsibility and in this case, the best player. I’ve been criticised and applauded too.”

Cruyff did however warn against singling out any individual when the team as a whole is struggling.

“It’s not about one person but a team. People are always looking for a culprit and Messi didn’t have his best season but he was injured for a long time and didn’t play as much as before,” Cruyff argued.

Moving on to one of Messi’s teammates, Cruyff said Xavi should remain at the club for a little longer after talk the playmaker could be on the move.

“He’s a great player. He always makes a difference in many details and is almost an essential part of the team,” Cruyff said.

“Football is played with the head and the feet and when age means you can’t do much with the feet, the head remains.

“And the older you are, the more brains you have. I have no doubt he should be here next season.”

But Cruyff admitted Barca do need new faces – the right ones, he stressed, unlike last summer.

“The problem has been from above, like I said earlier this season,” he continued.

“When Neymar arrived, he’s a guy with great qualities, but I don’t know anyone who is 21 and doesn’t have a lot to learn.

“When there were ups and downs he and his agent had to cover more.

“We almost had victims, like Xavi and Iniesta, who have won everything but had to change for Neymar.

“That is very bad direction from the people who make the decisions. Luis Enrique knows what is good and what is needed most.

“You have to monitor finances because if everyone says Barca has to buy, they will pay a lot of money.

“The day Carles Puyol said goodbye, I saw him but we didn’t have much time.

“If a player asks me something I’ll be there forever because my relationship with the players is different.

“One player doesn’t make the team, it’s about combining and adding what you need. But if Puyol is injured then at least Barca need a defender.”

Tags Johan Cruyff Lionel Messi Xavi Hernandez