Xavi says former Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi is the greatest player of all time, eclipsing the likes of Pele and Diego Maradona.
The debate over the best player of the world’s current crop is heated, with Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo the two touted contenders.
But Xavi went one further than simply suggesting Messi was better than his Real Madrid rival, insisting the Argentina forward is the best in the game’s history.
“Pele and Maradona both made a huge difference, but football has evolved,” Xavi, who played alongside Messi for more than a decade, told ESPN.
“The players are better than they were, the game is better. Physically, tactically, technically and psychologically, football is better than ever.
“And Messi stands out as the best at the best time in the history of football.”
However, Xavi also credits Ronaldo for helping push Messi to the levels he has achieved, suggesting the pair need each other to keep breaking new ground.
He added: “He would not be as good without Ronaldo.
“He wouldn’t have won all those Ballons d’Or and I don’t think Ronaldo would have won them all too. They push each other.
“The difference between the two is that, while they’re both great goalscorers, Messi is much more involved in the play of the team.”
Madrid host Barca in La Liga on Saturday, but Messi remains sidelined with a knee injury.
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