Domestic honours, European as well as international nothing has eluded him in his career at the Nou Camp thus he is rightly respected as not only one of the best midfielders in the game but the best players full stop. His talent is undeniable as he is able to retain the ball and use it like it is an extension of his body, putting it anywhere on the pitch that he pleases.
Although I’m not sure about the authenticity of this story, AS reported after El Clasico in November he went up to Lass Diarra and held out the match ball telling the Madrid midfielder ‘here, now you can touch it’ after the midfielder put in a shift chasing shadows as Xavi and co passed the ball around him.
A classy player, Xavi clearly has an eye for special talent as he reeled off a list of some of his favourite players in the Daily Mail ahead of his trip to London next week for Barca’s tie with Arsenal in the Champions League:
“Rooney, Scholes, Cesc (Fabregas), Nasri and Giggs. I was also a big fan of John Barnes, Chris Waddle and Matt Le Tissier. And although it is a different style, I liked the Paul Ince and Roy Keane partnership Manchester United had. They would have been my team had I moved to England.’
United as he said would have been his team of choice had he moved here so it’s no surprise that he saved special praise for none other than Paul Scholes. In discussing football with a friend he remarked it is the players who don’t play like Englishmen that are standouts in this country and whilst harsh Xavi’s words add some credence to this:
“In the last 15 to 20 years the best central midfielder that I have seen — the most complete — is Scholes. I have spoken with Xabi Alonso about this many times. Scholes is a spectacular player who has everything. He can play the final pass, he can score, he is strong, he never gets knocked off the ball and he doesn’t give possession away. If he had been Spanish then maybe he would have been valued more.”
I think as United fans we have banged on about how criminally under rated Scholes is for years (I was genuinely compelled to fight when someone told me Gerrard is a better player than Scholes has ever been!) so it’s a shame people will only start to sit up and realise now someone like Xavi has said it rather than seeing with their own eyes. At 36 Scholes is coming to the end of his career but he would still be a stand out in most teams as what he can do with a ball should be illegal.
I’m sure I don’t need to pull up the quotes from football’s biggest and brightest names singing his praise. I simple recommend that we appreciate him now not just as United fans but football fans because players of his elk are rare.