Xavi: Louis van Gaal was ‘ahead of his time’ at Barcelona

by Ben Topliss

Barcelona midfielder Xavi has thanked Louis van Gaal for playing a huge part in his breakthrough into the first-team at the Nou Camp.

Van Gaal managed Xavi during his two spells at the club and handed the Spanish midfielder his senior debut in 1998.

Xavi went on to become one of Barcelona’s greatest ever midfielders and also played a key part in Spain’s domination of world football between 2008 and 2012.

The 35-year-old believes van Gaal was instrumental in his early career as he gave him the confidence to succeed at the club.

Speaking about van Gaal, Xavi said: “Well my personal experience with him was great. He gave me the opportunity to join the first team and he gave me a lot of confidence the whole time.

“I worked with him and he really put his faith in me. He pushed me into the first team at 17 and helped me so much through that difficult journey.

“In my opinion he didn’t get the credit he deserved at Barcelona. He had very clear ideas and was very methodical. He was a coach who was ahead of his time.”

Van Gaal has shown in his first season at United that he can improve any player if they have the right attitude.

Juan Mata, Marouane Fellaini, Chris Smalling and Ashley Young have all turned their fortunes around this term thanks to the management of the 63-year-old. United may well end the season trophyless but van Gaal has brought a fresh wave of optimism to Old Trafford as the team goes through a transitional period.

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