With Diego Maradona publicly slamming Lionel Messi's leadership qualities recently, former FC Barcelona star Xavi Hernandez has now responded to what he said.
The 38-year-old – who played alongside Messi from when the Argentine made his debut for Barcelona's senior side in 2004 until 2015, when Xavi left Barca to join Qatari side Al-Sadd – has dismissed Maradona's claims that Messi is a poor leader.
The Argentina legend argued that Messi spends too much time on the toilet before games and plays too many video games to be a good leader. Xavi, however, has strictly opposed those claims.
"I disagree with Maradona. Messi is an incredible leader, maybe more silent in the dressing room, but an absolute leader," the Spaniard said, as quoted by Mundo Deportivo.
"But he is an absolute leader, he always wants the ball, he always offers himself, he has personality, he has never hidden. I have played with him in the first team of Barcelona, he has always shown face, he has supported the group, he seems to me a soccer player with an absolute, bestial leadership capacity.
"In this sense, I disagree with Maradona."
Xavi also insisted he does not understand why former players often tend to criticise their peers, despite having been in the same shoes.
"I don't like it when ex-players are so critical of former teammates. I'm not just speaking about Maradona, but in general," he added.
"Those players that become commentators and are really critical of their colleagues, because they've been there, know the difficulty.
"I don't understand such strong criticism towards a player when you've also been (a player)."
Xavi himself will face a tricky task as his current club needs to overturn a 1-0 first-leg home defeat to Persepolis in the semi-final of the Asian Champions League on Tuesday.
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