Xavi makes Iniesta comparison for young star in convincing Barcelona victory

Barcelona boss Xavi heaped praise on Pedri, likening the midfielder to Andres Iniesta after Sunday’s 4-0 home win against Athletic Bilbao.

Blaugrana came into the match on the back of two four-goal hauls in a row as Valencia and Napoli had been dispatched on their travels. Another fine display followed at the Camp Nou as Xavi’s January signings continue to shine. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made it five goals in four matches to open the scoring. The score was still 1-0 after 72 minutes before Ousmane Dembele, Memphis Depay and Luuk de Jong netted off the bench to put gloss on the result.

The star performer was arguably Pedri in midfield, though. Xavi hailed the former Las Palmas player in quotes carried by Marca: “Aside from the nutmeg, which is a small detail, it’s how he understands the game, goes between the lines and goes behind the midfield pivots.

“He reminds me a lot of Andrés Iniesta. If we’re talking about pure talent, Pedri is the best in the world.

“He is a wonderful player. I haven’t seen many talents like him.”

Xavi went on to discuss his side’s improved performances in recent weeks.

“I expected it because the team is getting better and better, they are training very, very well,” Xavi said. “The rival is an excellent team.

“I think we played a serious game. Solid in defence, with pressure after loss. The sensations are very good and that is what we are working on I am very happy, for the harmony with the fans, for everything. For Barcelona fans”.

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Xavi defends Dembele amid contract impasse

After his goal from the bench in Sunday’s 4-0 win against Athletic Bilbao, Xavi was keen to praise the attitude of Ousmane Dembele. The French winger has four months left on his contract and has attracted whistles from the home support for refusing to renew.

Xavi said: “It’s not my problem that he stays. He works very well and that’s why I defend him.

“He’s capable of doing what he does. I see a lot of conditions for him. Playing on the left, right, scoring goals, giving passes.

“I thought that with two pure wingers we would do more damage and this has been shown. That is why I have put in two wingers.

“It’s not a question for me. His contract ends. Nothing can be ruled out in football. Suddenly he couldn’t play and now he’s playing. I already said in my presentation that, if he works well, he can be the best in his position. I think he can do this in every game. It depends on him and the club.

“This is not the time to talk about renewal, but about him. It is time to praise collective work. This is not interesting now.”

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