"He's the best player I have ever coached" - Barcelona boss Xavi heaps praises on former Arsenal midfielder
Barcelona boss Xavi Hernandez has termed former Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla as the best player he has ever coached.
Cazorla made his name in Spain with Malaga and Villarreal, but it was his six-year spell in England that made him a household name. He registered 29 goals and 45 assists in 180 games for Arsenal before rejoining the Yellow Submarine in the summer of 2018.
After two years at Villarreal, he moved to Al-Sadd, where Xavi was the manager. In the 28 months together, they won the Qatari League, Emir of Qatar Cup (2x), Qatari League Cup and the Qatari Stars Cup.
Xavi became Barcelona's manager in November 2021, but Cazorla continues to be at Al-Sadd. The Spanish tactician was recently asked to name the best player he has ever coached.
"Player I like? I can't sign him because of his age, but Santi Cazorla. He is the best player I have ever coached."
Cazorla and Xavi boasted an impressive record for Spain, winning 34 and losing just two of the 39 games they played together. His time at Arsenal was hampered by a serious ankle injury that required eight surgeries to treat gangrene - a condition that put his right foot at risk of amputation.
The two-time FA Cup winner left the Gunners in July 2018 but hadn't played a game for them since October 2016 due to the issue. He is now 38 and out of contract at Al-Sadd next month.
Arsenal unlikely to beat Barcelona in Ilkay Gundogan race - reports
According to SPORT (h/t Express), the Gunners are unlikely to sign Manchester City midfielder and Barcelona target Ilkay Gundogan for three reasons.
In recent weeks, the Gunners have been linked with a move for the Germany international, who's set to be a free agent next month. The aforementioned report says that Barcelona are willing to table a three-year deal for him, compared to the two-year one Arsenal would offer.
Secondly, a move to Barcelona appeals to the player and his family. Lastly, if Gundogan is to stay in England, he would rather extend his deal with the Cityzens, with whom he has been since the summer of 2016.
Barca would be actively searching for a player who can replace Sergio Busquets, who will leave as a free agent this summer. It remains to be seen if they can convince Gundogan, 32, to join them as a free agent.
There's no domestic silverware that he can hope to win with Arsenal that he hasn't already won with Manchester City.