‘It had to be Leo’: Xavi heaps praise on Messi as he gets set to equal his record for most Barcelona appearances EVER tonight – with club legend insisting it is an ‘honour and a pleasure’ to know the ‘best player in history’
- Lionel Messi is set to equal Xavi’s record of 767 appearances for Barcelona
- Messi will reach the milestone total when Barca play Huesca on Monday night
- Xavi says it is only right that the man who will surpass he record is to be Messi
- The former playmaker hopes the Argentine stays at Barca for many more years
When Barca take to the pitch on Monday evening against Huesca, Messi will pull alongside Xavi’s all-time appearance total of 767 matches in the famous red and blue stripes.
Speaking this week from Doha where he manages with Al Sadd, Xavi admitted his record was always going to be surpassed by Messi and deservedly so.
Xavi (right) has heaped praise on Lionel Messi (centre) as he prepares to level his record of 767 Barcelona appearances – they are pictured together playing for the club in 2009
Xavi insists ‘it had to be Leo’ who finally took the record in the famous red and blue stripes
He told Spanish publication Mundo Deportivo: ‘You could see that Leo would end up surpassing me.
‘If he did not leave Barca it was clear that he would add many more games and he is still young to continue playing, he has a lot of football left, so he can play many more games.
‘It had to be Leo.
This season club legend Messi will become Barca’s all-time record appearance maker
‘It is fair that the best player in history is the one who has defended the Barca shirt the most times.’
Xavi regards his former team-mate as the greatest to ever play the game, and says that being passed by him will actually be ‘an honour’.
He added: ‘It is an honor that the best player in the world and for me in history is the one who surpasses me.
‘Leo is like that, he’s insurmountable, you can’t compete with him because he always wins.’
Following a turbulent summer Messi was widely expected to be playing his football elsewhere this season, following a failed exit strategy from Barca when he submitted his desire to leave via burofax.
Messi appeared disillusioned following last season’s humiliating Champions League exit to Bayern Munich, but Barca held firm and ensured their talisman honoured the fine print in his contract.
Returning to play his football at the Nou Camp this season, Messi matched Xavi’s total of consecutive seasons played with the Spanish giants (17).
The recent election victory of Joan Laporta has increased Messi’s chances to staying
It remains to be seen whether Messi will continue on with Barca past this season, with the option to walk away from the club for free becoming a possibility.
The recent victory of Joan Laporta in the club elections however has given the best possible chance for the Argentine to stay, given that he personally voted for the former Barca chief himself.
Xavi added: ‘I hope he can add many more games as a Barca player and leave a historic figure, I hope that he will be at Barca for many more seasons.’