Barcelona legend Xavi picked out Harry Maguire when speaking about his admiration for the England team at the Euros.
Xavi had kind words for several England players, but reserved particular praise for Maguire as being key to the way the team played, praising his ability bringing the ball out of defence.
The World Cup winner told The Times: “There’s Maguire, who drives up the ball to split the opponent’s pressing. How the full backs and wing backs behave for the team . . . there are details that speak volumes of Southgate’s work.”
Xavi also said he would have liked to see more of Marcus Rashford at the tournament.
Maguire was named in the Euro 2020 team of the tournament despite missing the opening two matches due to injury.
His reputation was hugely enhanced as a result of his performances at the tournament, and Xavi’s comments underline that point.
United made an approach
Xavi also admitted that Manchester United tried to sign him during Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign at the club. He was too committed to Barcelona to consider it.
Xavi said: “Manchester United approached me once through Sir Alex Ferguson’s brother, but my answer was very quick,. I was focused on Barça, my priority was only Barça. I am a fan from the very inside of myself and that’s why was impossible for me to leave.”
United’s own Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs shared the same philosophy, with a United focus, so Xavi’s commitment to Barcelona is easy to empathise with.
It was a shame for United of course, with Xavi played a key role in Champions League final wins against United in 2009 and 2011.
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