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Xavi Hernández on Barcelona team-mates

Xavi Hernández introduces the key players in FC Barcelona's final squad: who is his annointed successor, who is heading for a "golden age" and who is "the best at everything"?

Xavi Hernández and team-mates after winning the Liga
Xavi Hernández and team-mates after winning the Liga ©Getty Images

Marc-André ter Stegen, goalkeeper
"He's amazing, a surprise – I didn't know him, I'd never seen him play. I think he was a good signing by [former director of football Andoni] Zubizarreta, an incredible signing even. Because he could be Barça's goalie for the next ten, 12 or 15 years, for as long as he wants – I've never seen a keeper play so well with both feet, and with his instep he's amazing. He's been a massive surprise. I think he's got what it takes to become the best keeper in the world."

Javier Mascherano, defender
"He's a friend, a role model too. It's amazing how he's adapted to the style of play at Barcelona. He's intelligent, a leader, a total leader on and off the pitch, so he's a role model for the club. Even though he's not a graduate of the academy, it seems as if he was. He's somebody whose dedication and character are extraordinary. He's a role model for future generations at Barça, so that people will be able to say, 'A player who came from another football culture was able to adapt seamlessly to Barcelona's way.' He's set a fantastic example."

Jordi Alba, defender
"He's a great friend. In my book he's the best left-back in the world, without a doubt. A spectacular footballer, a winner, with an incredible character that makes him suited to playing football and for Barcelona. He has an extremely strong personality. He can become a great leader if he sets his mind to it, and I'm very proud of Jordi because I basically saw him make his debut for Spain, I saw him sign for Barcelona – I advised him to come here – and I have an incredible amount of affection for him. He deserves everything people are saying about him, he's the best left-back in the world and is in sensational form. I've got a huge amount of affection for him."

Gerard Piqué, defender
"Piqué is a natural-born leader, both on and off the pitch. Now he's become the best centre-back in the world again, because he set out to do that. He said as much in pre-season and has delivered. There's nothing more you can say in that respect. He's 28 and is the best centre-back in the world, so he's got four or five incredible years at Barça ahead of him, and he's a key figure in the dressing room and on the field. The team are doing very well in defence thanks to players like Piqué, and Mascherano, obviously."

Iniesta makes Xavi's five-a-side team

Andrés Iniesta, midfielder
"He's fantastic. I think he's the most talented Spanish player of all time. He's an amazing player, a wonderful person with a huge heart. He's excellent at everything: the way he treats people, an example in the dressing room and on the pitch. He's a leader. He always wants the ball, he never hides. That isn't easy to find. Aside from his talent, he makes a difference in all areas of the pitch. He's extraordinary. It's an absolute pleasure to have spent so many years playing alongside him."

Sergio Busquets, midfielder
"I've got a soft spot for Busquets in every respect. He's a close friend and I think he's the player with the best understanding of football, both in attack and in defence, in the world. His game intelligence on the pitch is a wonder. And off it, I don't know anyone else whom I have the same affinity with. I didn't say this at the press conference [when I announced my departure] but I think he's my natural replacement in the dressing room and on the pitch. He's destined to be the leader for Barcelona for the next decade, without a shadow of a doubt."

Luis Suárez, forward
"I'm very fond of Luis because we knew each other before he came to Barcelona, through mutual friends at Ajax like Gabi. He's an amazing player – the way he plays with his back to goal, his understanding of the game, the outlet he offers when the opposition press high up the pitch and we launch the ball to him in any old way and he brings it down. He wins fouls, he's a goalscorer, he's got a similar killer instinct to Samuel Eto'o. He's an incredible player in the box, his eye for goal and the way he picks out the final pass. He's an extraordinary player and, on top of that, an incredible person in the dressing room. He's really adapted very well to life at Barcelona and I'm really pleased for him, because he's a humble, hard-working and down-to-earth person."

Barcelona's road to the final

Neymar, forward
"Neymar is an incredible person, incredible, when you consider his profile in Brazil and the world-class player he is, he's a very humble person, a really good influence in the dressing room. And a player so gifted that when Leo Messi retires, he'll be the best player in the world without a doubt. He makes the difference at the age of 21, 22, and to do that at Barcelona is very difficult. Neymar is going to have a golden age, make no mistake."

Lionel Messi, forward
"He's the smallest, but he's the best at everything, even in the air. Messi is a phenomenon. I'm not about to say anything new. What Leo has been doing is amazing. He's even the best at defending. When he puts pressure on the full-backs, he wins the ball back. He's the best at everything, no matter what he does."

Xavi Hernández was speaking to Graham Hunter

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