With Xavi’s 34th birthday approaching, a look at how he remains one of the most influential midfielders in world football.

One thing most Barcelona supporters would agree with is that Xavi Hernandez is one of the club’s greatest ever players. Much has changed at the club during the past decade or so, but one thing that has remained constant is Xavi functioning as the team’s midfield engine. Even now, as he’s approaching 34 years of age, he remains a key player in the squad and an undisputed starter. Although he may have lost some of his pace over the years and is no longer able to play every single match at the highest level, Xavi’s vision and passing ability remain unmatched and are essential to the club’s pass-based approach. It would not be a stretch to suggest that managing Xavi’s fitness might very well decide how successful this season will be for Barcelona. Come the deciding stages of the season, aAi??fresh and fully-fit XaviAi??is something Barcelona simply can’t do without.

The Tiki-Taka Orchestrator

FC Barcelonaai??i??s Corner: Xavi Hernandez Still Going Strong with 34th Birthday Approaching

Xavi – The True Midfield Maestro

Underrated for many years, only recently has Xavi received the sort of praise and acclaim he deserves; both Barcelona and the Spanish National Team have attained unprecedented success with Xavi pulling the strings in midfield and becoming perhaps the most prominent face of the now famous ‘tiki-taka’ style of football. Many have even claimed that Lionel Messi’s success is dependent on Xavi, and while that is clearly a gross exaggeration, there’s no doubt that Xavi played his role in helping Messi becoming the best player in the world for what is now five years. Xavi’s talent lies not so much in how he plays, but how he makes others play and shine, like the director of a perfectly synchronized orchestra.

Xavi has been a key element in pretty much every big match Barcelona or Spain have played in the past 5 years. He doesn’t offer many goals – and even his assist count is surpassed by at least a dozen other elite midfielders – but he offers something far more important: control. He’s arguably the best passer in the history of the game and always seems to be at the right place, at the right time. With Xavi, Barcelona and Spain’s ball possession reaches stratospheric heights, leading to a sort of consistent control over matches that had never been seen before – and with that comes great success. Barcelona have won everything there is to win in club football in the past few years, while Spain are the reigning World Champions and back-to-back European Champions.

So Much More To Offer

Xavi - Will his absence be too big a gap too fill for Barcelona and Spain?

Will Xavi’s eventual departure absence be too big a gap too fill for Barcelona and Spain?

Many have been billing the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Thiago Alcantara to be Xavi’s heirs, but so far no one has shown the ability to replicate Xavi’s influence on the pitch. Even now that he’s way past his prime, his influence on the pitch is as noticeable as ever: Barcelona’s game flows much more naturally when Xavi is on the field. Considering what a key player he still is despite his age, Xavi might very well last long enough and reach the 1000 match mark with the Blaugrana jersey, a number that will further cement him as one of the biggest legends in the club’s history. As if any further confirmation was necessary. Xavi lives and breathes Barcelona: he started his football life as a young boy at Barcelona and that’s where he will end it. When talking to the press, Xavi’s passion towards the Barcelona philosophy & footballing vision is evident. He’s not just another player, he’s part of the club (although the same could be said of Iniesta, Puyol and others) and a symbol of it. Someone who will intrinsically connected to what have been the two most successful decades in the club’s history, someone who epitomizes the club’s vision.

When he eventually retires, Xavi will do so as the most successful player in Barcelona’s history in terms of titles & appearances (he already holds the record in this department, one he will only further enhance) and a role model on and off the pitch, perhaps the finest epitome of the La Masia model. The team will lose a world class player and a leader; the void he will leave at the club will be almost impossible to fill. But there’s a lot to look forward to before that: Xavi still has a lot of top quality football left in him and is still hungry to help his boyhood club achieve more success in the coming years and further cement his own legacy.

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