The Manchester United manager first met the Spaniard during his time in charge of Barcelona and did not make the best of starts
Louis van Gaal may have won two La Liga crowns as well as the Copa del Rey during his first tenure as Barcelona manager but Xavi was initially far from impressed by the future Manchester United manager.
The Spaniard left Barca last summer, eventually signing for Qatari club Al Sadd where he has so far managed two goals from four appearances.
A multiple Champions League and La Liga winner with Barcelona, Xavi was also part of the Spain team that won the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championship in 2008 and 2012.
One of the key proponents of Pep Guardiola’s tiki-taka style at Camp Nou, the 35-year-old is a much-revered figure in the beautiful game.
And as such, his views hold plenty of weight with football fans and experts alike.
So when it came to his assessment of Van Gaal, Xavi pulled no punches with a frank but fair recounting of his experiences under the Dutchman at Barcelona.
“After two days of training under him I thought, ‘Who is this idiot?’ After a week, I thought, ‘He’s right.’ He’ll always be in my heart, Louis van Gaal,” he told espnfc.com.
“[He is a] good person, very good trainer. He has a very strong character but he’s calm in the Premier League because there’s less pressure.
“He’s much calmer than when he was at Barça or Bayern Munich. He’s honest, methodical and a real perfectionist.”
The Spaniard was also keen to point to Van Gaal’s record when it came to blooding in young players.
“He’s a tough fighter, yet he put trust into me when I was 17 and 18 years old,” he said.
The comments come just days after Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard earned his first call up to the England national team squad.
Roy Hodgson opted to bring the 22-year-old on board in the wake of injuries to the likes of Jamie Vardy and Michael Carrick.
Yet, if Xavi’s assessment is anything to go by, Lingard may be the first of many young Red Devils stars to make the step up in the Premier League and on the international scene.