Xavi: Guardiola the most influential footballing figure for a decade

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Xavi Hernandez has given yet another indication of his huge respect for Pep Guardiola, labelling the ex-Barcelona coach as the most influential footballing figure of the past decade.The much-lauded pair spent several successful years together at the Camp Nou, during which time the Blaugrana regularly dominated both Spanish and European football.Guardiola is now embarking upon a different project at Premier League side Manchester City, and his former charge has predicted that the 45-year-old tactician has what it takes to transform the English game.”Guardiola improved us all,” he told an audience at the Amsterdam Arena. “His way is the Barcelona way. He has been the most influential person in world football in the past 10 years.””If anyone can change the dynamics of English football, it is Guardiola. He is influential, obsessive and a perfectionist. City will learn a lot from him and they are beginning to see a style [develop].”Despite leaving his boyhood club in 2015 for Qatari side Al Sadd, the veteran midfielder has admitted to keeping a regular eye on proceedings at the Camp Nou.And although the Blaugrana lost a topsy-turvy affair against Celta Vigo on Sunday, thus halting a promising run of form, the 36-year-old spoke of his pride at seeing the LaLiga champions play in such an expansive manner.”I wasn’t able to watch the game but it seems that there were many individual errors,” he added. “But the club is on another level, and that’s something you see especially when you leave the club.””The idea is to be dominant and have the ball, they also have the best players in almost every position and I am proud to watch them play. With Luis Enrique, they are working very well, but sometimes the result doesn’t always match the level of performance.”Another hot topic of discussion at the event in the Dutch capital was the upcoming Ballon d’Or ceremony, with the ex-Spain international shocking the audience by insisting that Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo should be viewed as the clear favourite.”Ronaldo has a big chance to win this year’s Golden Ball having won the Champions League and the European Championship,” he concluded. “But I also think it will be very competitive because there is [Lionel] Messi, of course.”

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