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Xavi talks Messi, Ansu, Gavi, Araujo, Torre, Garcia, Garrido ahead of Elche vs Barcelona



Photo by Florencia Tan Jun/Getty Images

Barcelona will look to extend their lead at the top of the La Liga table to 15 points when they lock horns with relegation-battlers Elche away at Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero on Saturday night.

The Blaugrana have opened up a massive 12-point advantage over arch-rivals Real Madrid following the 2-1 El Clasico win a fortnight ago and will now look to continue from where they left off before the international break.

Ahead of the game against Elche, manager Xavi Hernandez spoke to the media, addressing several topics ranging from the rumours of Lionel Messi returning next summer to the controversial comments made by Ansu Fati’s father earlier this week.

On facing Elche: “We are not thinking about the next game, only tomorrow. We don’t know what they will do with the change of coach. They have little to lose. They will show pride. It’s a tricky match, yes, and we have to win it”.

On Rafa Yuste’s comments about Messi’s return: “”It’s not the time to talk about Leo’s return. I talk to him a lot because he is my friend. We are dealing with the issue but there is a world between now and then, I hope we see him at home.

“I’m the first one who would be happy to see the best player in history return. But now is not the time to talk about signings, nor about Leo. We are two months away from winning two titles.”

On Ansu Fati’s situation and his father’s comments: “I have spoken to him. He is calm and focused, I like that. It doesn’t worry me. I don’t give importance to what the father says. I understand him perfectly. He is suffering for his son. I lived it… Ansu is a great guy, mature and will help us. I am the first one who wants him to succeed at Barça. I have a good feeling about him.”

“The player has to understand that there are five changes. In half an hour you can change a game. It will become more and more important. I have already asked for patience for the 20-year-old players.”

On Gavi and a possible campaign against him from Madrid media: “I don’t know. I don’t know about the campaign. He is happy with us, he is an extraordinary player. I suppose the problem is that he is a Barça player. In another team, it would be a virtue. He is one of the best midfielders in the world, without a doubt.”

Xavi thinks Gavi is one of the best midfielders in the world (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

On his influence in Messi’s possible return: “It’s not up to me. It depends on what he does. If he wants to come back we talk. But we haven’t spoken much. If he wants to come back, we will listen to him. I’ll be the first to add my voice for him to come back. I haven’t talked about next year. We are focused on winning titles.

“You are specialists in changing the subject and I don’t understand why people are talking about transfers. We are one step away from winning titles and now we are talking about signings. It’s surprising. Elche and the cup final, that’s what’s important.”

More on Messi rumours: “Let’s listen to fate if it’s so wise…let’s see what happens, there’s nothing yet. Let’s see how willing he is. We are doing a disservice to Leo, to the team, to the club… We are one step away from success in the post-Messi era that we were so afraid of. This is success.”

On the injuries within the team: “We have quite a few players who don’t have a good feeling but there are still a few days to go. We will try to recover. Pedri and Dembélé, Frenkie… are out tomorrow and then they’ll say how they feel.”

On Ansu Fati: “I try to make him happy, I have a lot of confidence in him, I know what he is capable of. I talk to him a lot. I try to make him happy. He’s going to deliver. I’m the first one who wants him to succeed.”

On Ronald Araujo: “It depends on the feelings. Today was the first day he worked in the group. Tomorrow I will talk to him and we will decide.”

On calling up Aleix Garrido and Estanis Pedrola: “I like Garrido, like Alarcón, like Pablo. Estanis can play on both sides and Garrido has a great last pass, which is what we lack the most without Pedri.”

On the possibility of breaking the most points record: “We didn’t talk about it, it’s an add-on, an extra, we haven’t even talked about it, I’m worried about winning the league and the cup.”

On whether Gavi would be treated differently if he played for Madrid: “If he played for another team, not just Madrid, the treatment would be different. A player like that is a spectacle. It might be the rivalry but it surprises me.”

On Pablo Torre: “He brings an interior play, he has a lot of talent, he is the best at set pieces, in corners, in side fouls, he can have minutes in these games.”

On Messi’s return depending on FFP: “It will depend on many factors. We are at the expense of the Fair Play but what will decide the most is Leo’s will. He knows that the doors are open to him. A lot of things have to happen.”

Xavi insists doors are open for Messi to return (Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images)

On the outlook of the team: “Maintaining our advantage in the league and trying to reach the cup final. Victories against Valencia and in Pamplona, with suffering, have made the group grow, like winning against Madrid with injuries. But we have to keep going. It’s not over yet.”

On the buzz surrounding Messi’s possible return: “Yes, of course, I’m in love with Leo Messi. Don’t misunderstand me, but that’s how it is. I’ve grown up with him, and I know him as a person. He is exemplary in many ways.

“The ultimate ‘last dance’ like Michael Jordan. It’s important that the Culés are excited. The best thermometer is the Camp Nou. There can be criticism, and circumstances, but Camp Nou doesn’t fail. People excited, happy in the street. It makes me proud.”

On the lack of goals: “We need to look more for Lewandowski, we need to improve there. More courageous in looking for more things.”

On Ansu Fati: “I understand Ansu’s father, I empathise. I worry about Ansu. I am calm when I see him training, he trains very well. It is important that he is happy.”

On Elche’s new manager Sebastian Beccacece: “We have analysed his game at Defensa y Justicia. He is offensive, he has spent years with Sampaoli. Very similar to what we are looking for. I don’t know what we’ll find but he’s offensive by training.”

On using Eric Garcia as a pivot: “I’ve been thinking about that position for a long time. He’s a perfect fit. We’ve talked about it with him. He makes good choices, he’s aggressive in duels, he can adapt to that position.”

On Jordi Alba: “It is difficult for him because we chose Balde lately, but he is helping, happy with him and his performance.”

On the tactics for tomorrow: “We will see. Tomorrow we’ll see. The idea doesn’t change at all, whether we play with three natural forwards or with a midfielder on one flank.”

Source: BarçaTV+

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