Jamie Carragher says that the best central midfielder he has even seen is Xavi, following the Spaniard’s retirement from international football.
The Barcelona star announced his decision to stop playing for his nation today so that he can concentrate on prolonging his club career.
Carragher was quick to pay tribute to the 34-year-old after his decision, too, saying that he was a ‘great player and a great man’.
Xavi Hernandez retires from international football as the best central midfielder I've ever seen. What a player what a man!— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) August 5, 2014
The news of Xavi’s retirement is a marking of the changing of the guard for the Spanish national side.
After dominating international football for a sustained period of time, La Roja were humbled at this year’s World Cup - as they crashed out in the group stages.
It means that their thoughts have now turned to the future and getting back to the heights that they once reached and Xavi’s chances of starting for his country were beginning to look thin.
The likes of Koke at Atletico Madrid and Thiago at Bayern Munich look two of the best, young players in world football and it will be their chance to sign on the big stage now – as they look to step-up and replace one of their national heroes.
Xavi has been showing signs of ageing in recent times, but his glistening career has seen him accumulate 133 caps for Spain and make 474 appearances for Barcelona and he will surely go down as one of the all-time greats to play the sport.
Even so, it is rather surprising to see Carragher pick him as his greatest ever midfielder given his affection for Steven Gerrard.
The pair played together at Liverpool, forming the spin of the team, and Carragher has been effusive in his praise for the Englishman throughout his career – even going as far as saying that Bobby Charlton is the only midfielder England have ever produced who is better than his close friend in recent times.
However, he clearly holds Xavi in an even higher bracket.
The diminutive central midfielder has won many admirers due to his unruffled approach to playing and his wonderfully creative passing style.
He will now be able to concentrate on securing his place in Barcelona’s midfield for the upcoming season and Carragher’s praise is sure to boost his confidence that he can do just that.