Cazorla hails Xavi abilities and highlights importance of Barcelona keeping Pedri and Gavi

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Santi Cazorla says Barcelona are fortunate to have his former team-mate and coach Xavi in the dugout, as he emphasised the importance of the Blaugrana holding onto young midfielders Pedri and Gavi.

Xavi led Barcelona to second place in LaLiga last term after returning to the club where he won three Champions Leagues as a player last November, having coached Cazorla as part of his only previous managerial assignment, at Qatari outfit Al Sadd.

Cazorla and Xavi were also team-mates during an immensely successful spell in the Spanish national team's history, with the former Arsenal and Villarreal midfielder featuring in triumphant European Championship campaigns in 2008 and 2012.

Speaking to Barcelona's official media channels during a visit to Camp Nou on Friday, Cazorla said Xavi was the idea coach for the Catalan giants due to his long-standing ties with the club.

"For me, he has been a benchmark, as a footballer and as a person," Cazorla said of Xavi. "We have faced each other in many league games, we have coincided in the national team, and I was lucky to have him as a coach.

"He is a spectacular person, and personally I think he is the ideal coach for Barca.

"He knows the club and for him, it's a dream to be here. He knows what the demand here is. I wish him the best."

Barcelona were ninth in LaLiga when Xavi's predecessor Ronald Koeman was sacked last October, having won just four of their opening 10 league games.

Xavi oversaw a dramatic upturn in the Blaugrana's fortunes after taking charge, as Barca won 17 of their last 26 league games, aided by the January arrivals of Dani Alves, Ferran Torres and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Meanwhile, Cazorla also emphasised the importance of Barcelona – a club famous for producing diminutive creative midfielders – holding onto youngsters Pedri and Gavi.

While Pedri only made 12 LaLiga appearances during an injury-hit season, 17-year-old Gavi played 34 league games for Barca in the 2021-22 campaign, with Sergio Busquets (36 appearances) the only Blaugrana midfielder selected more frequently.

Gavi produced more league assists (five) than any of his fellow Barca midfielders throughout the course of the season, also creating 15 chances and boasting a passing accuracy of 89 per cent.

With Frenkie de Jong linked with Manchester United as Barcelona look to fund a move for Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, Cazorla says keeping the Spanish duo is imperative.

"They have to hold on to Pedri, Gavi... People who come out of the academy with strength," he added.

"I enjoy watching them play, it's nice. For the good of football, let's hope they make a good team."

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