Thursday December 13 2012
Xavi: Contract all but signed

Xavi Hernandez has disagreed with Iker Casillas, dismissed talk of title challengers and revealed how close he really is to a new Barcelona contract.

The diminutive midfielder took the pre-match Press conference ahead of the weekend’s home match with Atletico Madrid, which is a game between first and second in the Division.

Even so, it is too early for Xavi to call the match decisive, or even between the only two teams in the running for the League crown.

“It is early to talk about rivals for the title. The two clubs will be there, though, so it seems,” Xavi told reporters today.

“Atletico are very strong. It was said that they would fail, but they have made few mistakes so far. This Sunday there is a chance that we could drop points.

“They are in a good run of form, they play well on the counter-attack and they have a striker that is fully charged.

“We do not forget Madrid, though, for the distance that they have behind us. There is still a long way to go in the League.

“Sunday’s game is one of the most attractive fixtures of the season and this year even more so seeing how Atletico are doing.

They have lost only twice in the League, they have a good dynamic and they have Falcao, who makes a difference. Hopefully people will enjoy it on Sunday.”

The player has been in negotiations in recent months with the club over a new contract and revealed that terms have been agreed and it is only a matter of completing the process before it is made official.

“I am very happy in this club and the only thing now is for the contract to be drawn up. I am very happy, I’ve hardly been slow to agree.

“They want to continue and my dream is to finish here and it looks like it will come true. I do not know if next week we will announce it as until 2016.

Xavi was asked his view on Tito Vilanova’s remarks that the ball teams have to play with the Copa del Rey is ‘like a beachball’.

“It is a lighter ball that resembles the Jabulani [the criticised ball from the 2010 World Cup]. You can see, it behaves strangely when passing and when the field is not quite right, it moves around a bit, but we have to adapt, we will play at the Confederations Cup with this ball.”

The 32-year-old was also asked for comment on Iker Casillas’ words published yesterday about Barcelona’s youth academy.

“I disagree with Casillas on the subject of the academy. We look to the academy a lot because there are many opportunities, it is possible when in previous years it was not.

“We draw much from the cantera, it is harder for people to come out of the youth system and adapt and so we are proud.

“From the base at Barca have come around eight or nine who have been champions of Europe and the world and who Spain are proud of, not just Barca.”

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