Manchester United assistant Ryan Giggs with high praise for Barcelona midfielder Xavi

Pirlo and Xavi Italy Spain

Xavi has just equalled Ryan Giggs' Champions League appearance record.

It was almost lost among the hat-trick of Lionel Messi in Cyprus but Xavi's appearance for Barcelona against APOEL Nicosia on Tuesday night was his 151st Champions League appearance, equalling the record set by Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs.

Xavi is now just one game away from breaking Giggs' record.

The Barca midfielder actually made his Champions League debut against Manchester United back in September 1998. The manager who gave him his debut was Louis van Gaal, now United boss - so the links and crossovers here are very organic indeed.

And now, the Manchester United assistant coach has been waxing lyrical about the Barcelona talisman.

Xavi may not be a guaranteed regular in the Barcelona team any more but Giggs still has nothing but good things to say about him this in a brief interview with Mundo Deportivo, the Catalan sports daily.

He said of Xavi:

“It’s always disappointing to lose a record but to share it with someone of Xavi’s calibre certainly softens the blow. For me he is like a chess player who is always two or three moves ahead. He is one of the greatest footballers in one of the best teams of all time.

“What surprised me most in the games I played against him was the way in which he caressed the ball and protected it, keeping if far away from his opponents. It seemed as if he always took the right decision at the right time.”

“What I most liked about him was his intelligence on the pitch and, although I don’t know him very well, the humility with which he carried himself.

“He reminded me a lot of Paul Scholes but Xavi was definitely better at tackling.

“He has the qualities to be a Coach because of the intelligence and leadership skills he has acquired during his career.”

Of course do not expect Manchester United to sign Xavi any time soon. His skills are starting to wane with age. Although with Van Gaal and Giggs firm fans, who knows?

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