Xavi hails Messi as the ‘greatest-ever’

Former Barcelona captain, and current Al Sadd midfielder, Xavi Hernandez says he never expected to win awards while in the same team as Lionel Messi.

Xavi made over 700 appearances for Barca, alongside his 133 caps for Spain, but as his playing career winds down he insists that he can’t complain about never winning the Ballon dÓr, which his former teammate claimed four times.

"I gave everything I had for Barcelona and Spain and I'm pleased with that. I don't have a single enemy in football," he told Record, quoted by Marca.

"With Messi, football's greatest-ever player, in the game, it was normal for him to win the Ballon d'Or. I never felt that I should have won that award. Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Suárez, who are extraordinary players, are simply not on the same level as Messi.

"Now it's harder to attack and dribble, players are much more physical, there's less space to play in and, yet, Messi manages to go around players, create space for himself, score goals and make a difference in every single game. On top of that, he's been doing it continuously for 10 years, with impressive consistency."

The 35-year-old Catalan also spoke of recently-sacked former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who he knew as manager at archrivals Real Madrid between 2010 and 2013.

"I respect his philosophy, but winning at any cost often means putting your playing style to one side," Xavi added. "You should be true to your style.

"He doesn't mind sacrificing that style because winning is what's important. In my opinion, the end does not always justify any means."