Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen says he is aiming to live up to his comparisons with Barcelona star Xavi.
After Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers dubbed him the Welsh version of the Barca playmaker, the pressure has been on the 22-year-old to live up to his billing, and he seems more than ready for that task.
The diminutive Wales international is preparing to face his old club, Swansea City, a team he made 130 appearances for before following Rodgers to Liverpool last summer.
Allen is clearly keen to emulate the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta but is also the first to recognise that he has a lot of work to do before he can reach their level.
“I know I’ve got to work hard on all aspects of my game, particularly my goal-scoring record, to reach the top level,” he told The Mirror.
“But I’m ambitious and, as long as I keep working and developing, why shouldn’t I aim to be as good as someone like Xavi?”
Allen’s price tag of 16 million euros has led to more scrutiny and, inevitably, more detractors – an issue he is both well aware of and capable of dealing with.
“I don’t look at opinions about me as criticism. I treat them as opinions and if they come from the people who have achieved a lot in the game, I take them on board and see if I can learn from them,” he said.
“I knew the price tag would be a challenge in itself, but I was ready for that and to prove my worth.”