Comparing Cesc and Xavi

When I did the position for position analysis before the Quater-Final first leg some people jumped on me simply because they had a different opinion. Probably the most controversial comparison was when I said Cesc was a better player than Xavi.

Now before I proceed further I would like to put it on record that I love watching Xavi and that he is an excellent player. So when I say Cesc is better than Xavi I’m not trying to be negative about the Barcelona player but just giving my honest opinion about the two outstanding individuals.

Lets consider some facts. The following are Xavi’s stats from Soccernet.

(c) DesiGunner

The first thing that stands out is that till the 04-05 season Xavi didn’t have a single assist in any competition. ( Update – Thanks to Fenix in the comments, we now know that the assist stats upto 04-05 are not valid. I do feel Xavi might have a few each year but I doubt if he has anything close to what Cesc has because his stats in 05-06-07-08 aren’t extraordinary either and they seem valid) I don’t have the assist stats prior to this period but even if he had an odd one somewhere it doesn’t change the fact that he was an ordinary player. I mean Denilson and Diaby have better stats this year than what Xavi had in those years. Little wonder that Barcelona struggled to win anything in that period.

Even otherwise the only year when he has stand out performances are in the 08-09 season. So you can say that Xavi matured and became a big player at the age of 28-29. Before that he wasn’t exactly special.

The other way of looking at this is that Barcelona became a better team in this decade after signing big names like Ronaldinho and Eto’o. They are the ones who won them the titles while Xavi was just another supporting player. Similarly last year Xavi was behind Eto’o and Messi.

According to soccernet, Messi had 42 goals and 18 assists in the 08-09 season. Eto’o had 39 goals and 6 assists.

It makes you wonder whether Xavi is really among the greatest in the world or he is coming into his own because he is playing behind some real superstars. This is certainly consistent with his ordinary performances for large parts of his career.

As I said before I don’t deny Xavi is a brilliant player and his experience makes him even more valuable in the system that Barcelona and Spain play. Still, he isn’t in the category of truly special players in the world, not on the basis of those stats.

In comparison lets look at Fabregas,

(c) DesiGunner

Lets not forget Fabregas is 22 right now. So these stats are from age 17 to 22. At that age Xavi was nondescript at best. In the tables above Cesc and Xavi have the same number of goals (52) and Cesc (88) has far more assists than Xavi (59). And this is 6 years of a young Cesc vs 9 years of a maturing Xavi!

Some people will say that Xavi right now is a better player than Cesc. It’s an opinion I can only laugh at. Cesc was as good as Xavi three years ago and has now moved on towards the extra special category, something Xavi will never achieve.

Don’t forget Cesc hasn’t really played behind two world class attackers ever. You just have to wonder how great his stats would have been if he had been playing behind players like Messi and Eto’o.

Some people don’t understand the dynamics of football. When you have a guy like Messi in your team you can be confident the opposition cannot push forward in numbers. It allows you to push 6-8 men in the opposition half to press them and win the ball back.

If the opposition does push forward Messi will clean out three or four defenders if he is given the length of the half to run into. This single fact allows Barcelona to play the way they play. Ibrahimovic adds to this strength and the same was the case when Ronaldinho and Eto’o were playing at their best.

Even when Messi doesn’t do anything on the pitch he completely controls the tactics that the opposition can deploy. This allows his team mates to look far better than they actually are.

I know some people point out one or two matches without Messi but that’s just dumb. You have years of stats telling you something and while they may not be perfect, over the years they do paint a picture.

In that sense you can understand the impact of Van Persie’s injury to Arsenal’s chances this year. He was a guy with 7 goals and 7 assists in 11 league games. Someone who could have been a huge figure in front. I’d love to see what this Barcelona squad can do if Messi is out for half a season or more.

Another argument is about the national team. Xavi has played for Spain for years without doing anything special. Their national team is now doing well because they have guys like Torres and Villa at their peak and some great support from players like Iniesta and Silva. Fabregas plays a different role and system at Arsenal and hence Xavi with his experience starts ahead of him. Moreover, Fabregas has had some serious injuries in the last two seasons. In time Fabregas will be a far bigger player for Spain than Xavi has ever been.

To me, the bottom line is that Fabregas is in a different league and Xavi, while very good in his own way, is not even half the player Cesc is.

134 Responses to Comparing Cesc and Xavi

  1. BJOHNSON says:


  2. richard says:

    You jest

  3. Arsene Wenger says:

    Great analysis.

    Love sites that use facts rather than moan incessantly.

    Could be a Spurs fan with St Totteringham’s Day coming up, always remember that, and about to end up 6th or better, 5th.

  4. Hong_gunner says:

    Cesc is amongst the gifted players category, and i admit is better in his all-round game than xavi. But i’d still say cesc and xavi cant be compared. They are two completely different players. What xavi does at Barca(especially with Iniesta around) is plug the small gaps and help midfield keep the ball unless he can find a way through(or find Messi, for that matter). They as a team play so well together that xavi can roam around the centre circle just to connect Messi and co as Barca try to strech the play through the flanks. With his technical ability and superb team movement, he can do that all day long. But his creativity and is nowhre near Cesc’s. One place where he outshines cesc is his off-the ball play. For cesc, he is the heart of our attacks. Most of our attacks flow through him and is burdened in the creative area. The more you create, the more chances u’re going to get intercepted. Once Diaby steps up a gear and a level, cesc will get more lethal and displace xavi from the spanish first team.

  5. Kaymech says:

    Whao, this is the best analysis i have ever read in my lifetime. I am going to use this piece to prove my point to my friends what I have always been telling them all these days.

    Keep it up guy, I love you.

    Kaymech from Nigeria

  6. The Fan says:

    Good analysis. You will be the one laughing in years to come when spain goes “xavi who? we only came to see cesc fabregas”…..summin like that.

  7. Deen nigeria says:

    I totally agree with u .Well said with stats.

  8. Little Mozart says:

    When put like that, its clear that El Captain is a phenom! No doubt that Xavi is a good player, but Cesc is on another level. Sort of like Messi, they are far ahead of their time… Just imagine Lionel at The Grove 😀 we all can dream, cant we :-D….

  9. Presido says:

    Fabregas is mor better than xavi because xavi is playin behind world best attackin force while cesc is playin behin premature player u cant compare lionel messi and zlatan ibramovic, henrz wit betner of theo walcot

  10. guillem says:

    Couldn’t agree any more. Xavi is imo the most overrated player ever.


  11. Olumide says:

    This is wonderful analysis. You are the kind of person I like discussing football with as you analyse every liitle bit of what makes players who they are and how teams work. The only thing Xavi does slightly better than Fabregas is his holding ability but I believe Fab is a better player and Barcelona will do everything to have him from Arsenal

  12. Bolarex says:

    What a great analysis. If fabregas behind word class, he would have been named among the word best and i know he still have a bright future ahead

  13. james says:

    I’m a crazy gunner but this is pretty silly- as a matter of fact, its absolutely ridiculous coming from a fellow gunner.
    Stats only say so much about a player. Xavi might end his career as one of the top 5 to ever play in the “playmaker-deep-midfield position”. His awareness of space, strength, vision and precision make nobody and I repeat nobody near him in that role now- 93% out of 224 completed passed in the games against us and thats not unusual.
    Its almost like saying Bergkamp wasn’t magical and comparing him to someone like Kluivert or Van Nistelrooy. U guyz should get a life- Cesc already has one and he knows he can get to Xavi’s level or even surpass him: simply put, cesc can be a much better all-rounder thanks to us.

    • desigunner says:

      This article tries to explore many aspects of football. One of them is how come one player has suddenly become the best midfielder in the world at the age of 28/29.

      That is the reason I’ve looked at the past and the co-relation is that Xavi has become better when he has been behind some real super stars who do bulk of the creating and scoring and who occupy most of the opposition tactics and players.

      Xavi is fantastic in one role. My point is Cesc could be just as good in that role with those set of players around him but Cesc has moved on to being much more influential player with a much wider array of skills.

      It seems to me that you can only understand oversimplified generalizations and when a discussion gets complex you don’t really know what you are talking about.

      • james says:

        See you bandying around “oversimplified generalizations” and the like- its so funny because at the end of the day, the best of soccer is its simplicity, thats exactly what the true greats showed: look at Zidane- amazing in his simplicity and added the flourishes only when it was absolutely necessary, look at Pele- one of the ‘simplest’ of players in that Brazil squad: simple but beautiful, look at our own Bergkamp- simple unless an extra dimension was needed.

        At its core, soccer’s a ‘simple’ sport (ignoring the contributions of someone like Ronaldinho who probably took it to another level at its prime), its about how to move the ball and control space effectively, its about how to conserve energy while your opponents are losing theirs, and this is exactly what xavi does.

        You fail to realize that barcelona has changed a lot throughout the time xavi has been there and he’s a huge reason why they may be one of the best club teams ever seen. Barcelona pretty much went from being a badly run club who depended on some signings and instability to a team that decided to stick to in-house building of their idenitity and additions when necessary to rejuvenate the squad. Xavi has gone from playing with a Ronaldinho (when he was still subservient to the whims of a unqiue individual and had to play in ‘that’ system) to functioning under the constant-passing-and-pressuring mode that suits his understanding of soccer- a similar thing to Bergkamp under Rioch and in Inter before Wenger came. Xavi is not fantastic in one role- he is a footballer who’s found the role that suits him perfectly and plays it better than almost anyone has seen. His simplicity in holding on to the ball, he’s strength in joining the DMs to mark and pressure and his understanding of the talents in front of him (zlatan, henry, etoo, messi) and around him (iniesta, keita, silva etc) show that your pigeon-holing of him is false and untrue. This is why a lot of stars who understand the game (Zidane, Fergie, Rooney, even Wenger) have quietly praised xavi- he truly is a fantastic footballer and cesc will do to take what he can from him (Xavi) and add his own superior qualities (goal scoring, zeal as a captain and more) to become as great as we all want him to be.

      • desigunner says:

        Football is the simplest game in the world that’s why it’s so popular. Unfortunately, analysis is never simple. That’s the reason there are only a handful of good managers because decision making is a complicated task. Fans can have their simplistic opinions but that doesn’t mean they can become good managers or decision makers.

        If decision making about who was good and who wasn’t was that simple then you and I would be great managers. Don’t confuse the simplicity of football and the complexity of analysis and decision making.

        The greats of football have said good things about Xavi and about Cesc. Even I’m saying a lot of good things about Xavi. Once again you’ve completely missed the point. Those points are completely irrelevant to any argument in this article.

      • james says:

        But you say this and I quote:
        “To me, the bottom line is that Fabregas is in a different league and Xavi, while very good in his own way, is not even half the player Cesc is.”

        That’s as simplistic an analysis/statement as anyone can ever make. Your argument in the article brings stats, age and silly stuff like that to grade a ‘player’- can you please mention Zidane’s stats and put them up against a player like Lampard who some will say played a near-similar position: Lampard will trump him time and time again and yet, Zidane is quite simply Zidane even though he played with some of the best French and Real players when he came into his own and was recognized as the greatest player on earth.

        Its fans like you that move to simplistic opinions when analyzing players using stats, thats why Fergie took his time to single out Xavi in a game that Xavi came through without the most plaudits. He knows who a true footballer is.

        Or do you still see points made that are irrelevant to your arguments or earlier highlighted summation???

      • desigunner says:

        I’ve seen Cesc do everything that Xavi does right now although the passing stats would be somewhat different because he plays in a different system and league and with a different bunch of players.

        I’ve seen him shield the ball, make great passes, turn players, name whatever you can that Xavi does and I’ve seen Cesc do it.

        He can’t keep on doing only that because he has a wider set of talents and doesn’t play behind a strong attack. Xavi can focus on only that because a lot of the creative burden is taken away from him. That is the reason you cannot blindly accept that Xavi does it and Cesc can’t. That is the reason they are even comparable in the first place.

        Between Lampard and Zidane I can mention ten things Zidane did that Lampard could never do. The argument wouldn’t even start. If you can tell me things that Xavi does and show me that Cesc can’t do it then the example of lampard/zidane makes sense. Otherwise you might as well start comparing a striker and a defender!

      • james says:

        See who’s missing the bigger picture here, I brought up Zidane and Lampard just to show how deceiving stats can be.

        No one says cesc can’t do what xavi does, there’s not much exquisite about xavi’s skill-set, he’s never claimed to be a dribbler, header of the ball, pirouette specialist etc. But when it comes to the vision, precision, pace, everything of his passes, he does it better than anybody in the world now, does it pretty much every single game and thats saying something.

    • Phil23 says:

      So with your logic goals and assists are irrelevant? Pele may have played ‘simple’ but did he or did he not score 626 goals? Do you think Ronaldo would have got player of the year if he got 5 assists and 5 goals? If you could choose to have Xavi in your team from age 16-33 or Fabregas would you honestly take Xavi? Would you honestly pick a team that you percieve as good over a team that is proven to be great through cold hard facts? Heres a comparrison, put 11 of Fabregas on the field and 11 of Xavi. All up Xavis team gets 50 goals and 50 assists. Fabregas team comes up with 250 goals 250 assists. Who would you crown champions? Goals are goals and assists are assists. Denilson got 100% pass success a couple of weeks ago. By your logic he must be an all time great?

      • james says:

        Your points are sadly so all over the place that its hard to respond.

        Pele- 626 goals (ummhh, he’s a striker so his goals count)

        Ronaldo- player of the year with 5 assists and 5 goals, (Zidane player of the year, 2003- abt 10 goals, not too many assists, but his presence on his teams and all-round play counted so its all team-dependent; ronaldo- pretty much the forward that season???)

        Xavi/Fabregas (16-33)- maybe u should call that one when Cesc gets a bit older, talk about crowning someone at 23????

        11 Xavis vs 11 Cescs: how in the world did you come up with that point, late night???

        Denilson 100% pass rate: was this from ~100 passes like Xavi did, were this sideways passes and backward passes to defenders a la denilson or expansive, incisive passes sideways, over the top assist for a goal, under pressure, across pressur etc a la Xavi.

        Maybe your ‘logic’ needs a bit more work…

    • barca96 says:

      good points james!

  14. Aussie Jack says:

    You are only as good as your support players. I know this from personal experience. When I played at club level I was ordinary and felt ordinary, once I moved into representitive football it was so much easier and didn`t have to work so hard and and I felt complete. Fabregas has been playing with players below his level, even though (like Arshavin) he has asked for world class assistance. Both their performanes have suffered from this and it must be rectified or they must move on.

  15. Deen nigeria says:

    Aussie and james. Ur coments may be true but rememba facts speak 4 themselves.Despite d fact dat arsenal team dont field players beta dan B52 , or Edu9, the work rate shows Cesc is beta ,u just gat to know dat.

  16. james says:

    What facts are you talking about, do you guys watch football or look at stats, Cesc himself knows that there are many traits Xavi has that he would die to get because if he gets to that level, he’d be unstoppable.

    Xavi is the hub of both the Spanish and Barcelona team- the 2 teams that represent possession soccer at its apex- how many great players have failed to do well around players of their ilk (Riquelme for one).

    We arsenal fans are normally sane, honest and insightful in our observation of soccer because we’ve had some marvelous players in our time.

    Lets not stop now!

    • desigunner says:

      The question you have to ask yourself is what was Xavi doing up to 2005 or even upto 2007 with Spain or Barca. What are his performances and achievements in that period.

      And why did Barca have to sign big name players like Ronaldinho and Deco when Xavi was around 23/24. Was Xavi really the hub of that squad!?

      • james says:

        I’ve already refuted this as well as I can- Xavi was not the hub of Ronaldinho’s team; ‘dinho is a unique player, there’s probably nobody ever who played the way he played for those 2yrs he was at the apex of the football world- he mixed outrageous with effectiveness and had ridiculous joy playing circus, but devastating, football- something a lot more people should check out in wonderment. Deco was an extension of that team and thats why both were sold to create an ultimately stronger team (this one)

        Xavi IS the hub of this barca team and the current spanish team- the teams are built (rather amorphously I should say) around his style as a player and they were the best teams last year without a shred of doubt.

      • desigunner says:

        The question is why wasn’t Xavi good enough to be the hub? why did they need all those players? Add to it that they need messi right now and they’ve always needed eto’o or ibra like strikers and Xavi will always be the third best player in the team!

        I don’t know too many players who become hubs of their teams at the age of 28-29 after playing for close to a decade without being anywhere near the best player in the team.

        The answer is that Xavi will always need big stars in front of him to be effective. Once he has that being a hub is not as difficult as you make it sound. And it’s definitely something Cesc can do.

      • leroy says:

        this can be very simply answered if u put the both of them in one team…at the same time and play them…u will see where the hub really lies..look i can defend Xavi is better and Fab is gr8…but you honestly havta acknoledge tht…with no hatred at all to fab btw…u say Xavi need big stars…and then again u say xavi could not do this with those big stars…i mean..well look up…with dinho in side he used to play basquets position…even lessenin the hub…today..the passing game has generated a HUGE pace..and i’m really sorry to say but yes Your captain lags behind him…fab passes well keeps the ball well scores more goals…but the orchestration of the game is a dot in front of a ball…

    • james says:

      “why wasn’t Xavi good enough to be the hub” with ronaldinho in? stop taking a piss mate: and how many times do I have to explain how barcelona moved from a terribly run team to what they are now, I mean dude, its simple soccer history.

      As to this your crap about 28-29, when did Drogba come onto the scene (at 12?), when did Nedved become an European great (at 11?), Zizou was 26 in the ’98 world cup (a whole 26 man and he wasn’t even hyped before the tourney, but what is he now?), are you going to reduce Drogba’s effect on the league and soccer as a whole just because he played in Guincamp and understood (and was understood by his managers) his strengths at an older age.

      Don’t let Wenger’s arsenal and the ajax factor cloud your understanding of soccer man. its not where you start, its what you become and how long you stay that way…

      • desigunner says:

        The point is why did they have to buy Ronaldinho if Xavi was so good. And why did they have to buy Deco?

        As you said it’s not Drogba’s fault he was discovered later. It would not have been Xavi’s fault if he had been in some bizzare team. But he was always at Barca and always behind three players for a large part of his career.

        You have an amazing ability of bringing up irrelevant examples and frankly i’m tired of it. this is my last response to you.

      • james says:

        ‘irrelevant examples’ that show how you ignore the bigger picture of how a club’s general stature affects an individual (Ronaldinho/Rijkaard moving to Barca changed them from a badly run/unstable club- where those 3 players behind and alongside xavi changed every year- to the beginnings of what they were today, Cesc always had Wenger at Arsenal, irrelevant, I think not)

        ‘irrelevant example’ of how ronaldinho’s uniqueness meant barcelona was subject to the whims of an individual (would probably have happened to Cesc too) and not a ‘team-game’ which has worked better for xavi’s talents
        (where a ‘Deco-like’ signing is no longer needed to challenge Real in both the ‘big-name’ signing that spanish club presidents use to retain power and in strengthening THAT team, irrelevant, I think not)

        ‘irrelevant example’ of how you constantly bring up comments about Cesc at 21/22/23 and bring down a 28/29 Xavi but fail to realize that some previous and current greats came into the right situations pretty late, irrelevant, i think not.

        funnily, i never comment on fan sites because opinions are like assholes, everyone has one but I was at least impressed that you ventured into the challenge although I disagree with your general comparison metrics, sad that you had to chicken out and not attack both my facts and premises like I did yours, however strongly or poorly…

  17. Vermaelen says:

    I might have counted them wrong, but here is the Stats for Fabregas with and without Van Persie:

    With RVP: 17 Games: 9 Goals, 12 Assists
    Without RVP: 19 Games: 10 Goals, 7 Assists
    Total: 36 Games: 19 Goals, 19 Assists

    Just from these stats, his overall contribution with RVP is is better with 2 fewer games

    I was trying to prove that with a better front man, Fabregas is better, so I’m going to try a different angle, lets look at the games before RVP’s injury:
    G=Goal, A=Assist
    14/11/2009 Injury
    07/11/2009 Wolves 1-4 Arsenal Fab(1G,1A) RVP(1A)
    04/11/2009 Arsenal 4-1 AZ Fab(2G)
    31/10/2009 Arsenal 3-0 Spurs Fab(1G) RVP(2G,1A)
    Carling Cup Liverpool game ignored
    25/10/2009 West Ham 2-2 Arsenal RVP(1G,1A)
    20/10/2009 AZ 1-1 Arsenal Fab(1G) RVP(1A)
    17/10/2009 Arsenal 3-1 Birm.C. Fab(1A) RVP(1G)
    04/10/2009 Arsenal 6-2 Blkburn Fab(1G,4A) RVP(1G)
    29/09/2009 Asnl 2-0 Olympiakos Fab(2A) RVP(1G)
    26/09/2009 Fulham 1-0 Arsenal Fab(1A) RVP(1G)
    Carling Cup West Brom game ignored
    19/09/2009 Arsenal 4-0 Wigan Fab(1G) RVP(1A)

    These 10 games shows the both Fabregas and Van Persie has BOTH contributed either in assist or goal apart from 2 matches, where one of them has. ALL 7 goals by RVP are in these 10 matches, showing that their understand has improved.
    Van Persie Fabregas
    1st 7matches: 0G 2A 2G 3A
    After 10matches: 7G 5A 7G 9A

    Notice when Van Persie starting to get familiar with our new system and start scoring goals, Fabregas also found his form. And it’s no coincident, which is why I keep repeating that with RVP, we could possibly have won the title and beaten Barca by now.

    I don’t want anyone to underestimate the importance of the understanding between RVP and Fabregas and I hope you see that in those Stats, Fabregas is a better player with an in-form RVP in the side.

    I wrote this because this is just one player-RVP, could make on our team, now relating back to the article, imagine Messi and his impact on Barca, now with Eto’o, Henry etc of last season, the whole Barca team will seem better, not just Xavi.

    ps. I’m quite proud of myself for my work here, so feel free to use it where ever you want hate to see it goes to waste 🙂

    • desigunner says:

      What you’ve analyzed corroborates what I’m trying to say. Perhaps we will get a better idea once we have Van Persie fit for the whole season. I wish!

  18. JINJIWA says:

    Perfectly agreed

  19. Ahmad says:

    add to dis analysis da fact dat adebayor,bendtner [even RVP at tyms] hav played a great role in decreasin da “assists” column wid dere misses!
    El Capitanx da man! =)

  20. Marcus says:

    You’ve started a hot debate Desi.

    I wonder what AW’s long-term plans for Cesc are.

    It seems like this season he created an advanced role for him

    1) to lessen injuries
    2) to get him scoring goals as part of his make-up
    3) to play him in his Spanish position, so he would get to play in the World Cup as his talent requires.

    Amazingly, Cesc is almost as good in the Dennis Bergkamp role as he is in the Xavi role.

    Oh, and he doesn’t play in the Spanish League, he plays week in week out in the ‘break-a-leg hero’ EPL.

    Xavi is superb, Cesc is another level completely….

    • desigunner says:

      I think the simplest reason for the change is that Fabregas is the best player to be in that hole. He can see everywhere, he can make the right runs, he can spread the ball around and completely control the attack.

      That’s exactly my point. Cesc can be as good as Xavi if he plays that role and can reach the heights of Bergkamp if he continues in this role. In short he can be a far more complete and bigger player than Xavi.

      • kirsten says:

        stats will make you miss the bigger picture. watch football and try to understand football. it is not the guy who puts the ball at the back of the net who makes the team play.

        Xavi makes barca play. He makes everyone around him play better. You have to look at the games Xavi didnt play in. Some of them we won, but not with our normal possession and passing game. Ask Messi to name the players he would like to have in his team and the first name will be Xavi. why?because xavi make his play better. Proof? Messi’s performance in the national team.

        Here is a fact mate: Cesc is nowhere near Xavi at this present time and he has never been. However, Cesc has the potential to be as good or even better than Xavi. To quote from you: “Cesc can be as good as Xavi”. Note “can”. but right now he is not anywhere near Xavi. Look at the arsenal/barca game at emirates.

        Your argument is based on if. You argument assumes that cesc with keep on playing and improving like he is right now and that Xavi will stop improving and growing.insane.
        The two players we can compare right now is cesc and messi.why?they are same age and same generation. was cesc as good as messi was at 17?no!!. at 18?no!!at 21?no!! at 22?no!!will starts show for it? i doubt.

        You point is as weak as comparing Messi with Maradona or Maradona with Pele or Pele with the real Ronaldo(note “the real”, not Christiano). Insane. and once Xavi retires, spain wont play the same way. They dont play the same way when he is out. The same goes with barca.

  21. Fenix says:


    Before you come out saying that these are “facts”, try thinking if they actually make sense.

    Would Xavi, whose as we all know look to pass than shoot when they are equally good options, really rack up goals early on in his career while getting no assists at all?

    While compiling those “statistics”, you should also have caught glimpse of his other numbers those years:
    – Zero fouls committed
    – Zero fouls suffered
    – Zero shots (and still scored 12 goals during those first three years on record!!!)

    Really, look here:

    The entire Barça team has nothing under the assist column. Clearly, it’s just that ESPN’s internet hamsters can’t dig up all the numbers from those early years.

    Either that, or Xavi is so cerebral, he can score by just imagining that the ball is in the net. Fabregas has got nothing on 12 goals from 0 shots 😛

    • Fenix says:

      Oops, whose -> who

      Well, let’s get to the meat of the matter then: who is the better player?

      Fabregas is most probably impressing more than Xavi did at this age. His 23 goals this season is just mind-boggling.

      But where the hell was Fabregas for most of the first leg while Xavi was completing ~100 passes? It’s telling that he can’t displace Xavi in the Spain lineup at this moment, forcing Fabregas to move up from his normal position as Marcus mentioned. If you want to keep possession, Xavi is your man for the occasion, period. His vision, reading of the game, passing, movement off the ball, and ability to turn away from opponents are easily among the best the world has ever seen.

      That said, I think Fabregas has the potential to surpass his childhood heroes. I’m looking forward to seeing him improve even more over the next few years.

      Also, lol @ the “best analysis i have ever read in my lifetime” comment. People are so unquestioning when they hear what they want to hear.

      • james says:

        Big up to Fenix for bringing real perspective to the argument, of course Cesc is more impressive now, he’s been put in a unique situation where a manager is ok with giving his team to a 22/23 yr old and he’s thriving- that should not be used as an axe on Cesc just as Xavi playing with great players should not be used to hammer down Xavi.

        Its surprising that Arsenal fans are choosing to cover their eyes with wool here- I mean do you guys actually watch Barca matches or what? Like Fenix says ~100 passes at a >90% success rate and we aren’t just talking about denilson-type passes, we are talking about range: over the head across to a marauding fullback, switching play to left/right, passing under pressure from midfielders, everything.

        People, be realistic- such ideas serve to make Fabregas less than he is, not greater. The fact that fab at his age can even be compared to someone who has perfected the style of his(Cesc’s) role-model, Guardiola, shows what Cesc can become as a finished product (something we hope he’s not yet but even if he is, its wonderful). You probably would have said this same type of crap about Zidane if he was playing at the same time as Messi now.

        Question: who’s a better player if barca win another champion’s league: Zidane or Messi?

    • desigunner says:

      I agree that some of the stats might be missing from Soccernet and the assists stats upto the year 04-05 might not be correct. but the stats from 05-06 onwards are clear and Xavi doesn’t have anything special till he comes to 08-09.

      The fact doesn’t change that Barca had to buy big players like Ronaldinho and Deco to win because Xavi couldn’t do it at the age of 23-24-25. The fact also remain that right now Xavi is behind the best player in the world and probably the best of the decade.

      Once you put everything together it’s not difficult to see that Xavi was quite ordinary till he got some really big names around him.

      • Fenix says:

        “Might”? If that wasn’t enough, Soccernet also asserts that Bergkamp and Henry had zero assists in 2001/2002. I wouldn’t trust the stats during later years, either, because I just saw a video of Xavi bagging two assists in a Liga game against Betis during his “one-assist” 2005/06 season.

        I hope the least you do now is to amend your original post, because so many of those numbers are whack. It’s no longer an innocent mistake at this point. No, it’s more sinister than that.

      • desigunner says:

        Yes I acknowledge your point will put a note regarding the stats upto 05. Beyond that I’m not sure they would write 1 assist if he had 15. One or two plus minus doesn’t really change anything.

        Still, I’ll change it if you uncover further evidence that makes a significant difference to the analysis.

      • desigunner says:

        And yes, I really appreciate any well made fact based argument.

        My problem is when people confuse opinion with fact and close their minds. As you can see I’m open to any honest debate.

      • james says:

        Big up to Fenix for bringing real perspective to the argument, of course Cesc is more impressive now, he’s been put in a unique situation where a manager is ok with giving his team to a 22/23 yr old and he’s thriving- that should not be used as an axe on Cesc just as Xavi playing with great players should not be used to hammer down Xavi.

        Its surprising that Arsenal fans are choosing to cover their eyes with wool here- I mean do you guys actually watch Barca matches or what? Like Fenix says ~100 passes at a >90% success rate and we aren’t just talking about denilson-type passes, we are talking about range: over the head across to a marauding fullback, switching play to left/right, passing under pressure from midfielders, everything.

        People, be realistic- such ideas serve to make Fabregas less than he is, not greater. The fact that fab at his age can even be compared to someone who has perfected the style of his(Cesc’s) role-model, Guardiola, shows what Cesc can become as a finished product (something we hope he’s not yet but even if he is, its wonderful). You probably would have said this same type of crap about Zidane if he was playing at the same time as Messi now.

        Question: who’s a better player if barca win another champion’s league: Zidane or Messi?

  22. smgooner! says:


    When comparing two players in the present, past stats have no use/credibility.

    If you say cesc is a better player than xavi then that should be based on there ability and performance right now. You can not say cesc is a better player right now becuase he has better stats 4 years ago.

    Also the fact that cesc has been a regular for a few seasons now and one of our best players means he has had more opportunity to aquire assists etc and like you said xavi was in a team with the likes of eto’o and ronaldinho meaning his creativity and opportunities were limited and whilst i agree with you that xavi has only really established himself has world class recently that does not mean cesc is CURRENTLY a better player bbecuase he has a better record over the years and is younger.

    You wouldnt say Henry is currently better than Rooney becuase he has a better record over the years would you!

    P.s i love arsenal and cesc and in my opinion cesc could well be very close to being better than xavi but your reasons/arguments for this are simply awful!

    • desigunner says:

      It’s sad that you have completely missed the point.

      There are many factors at play and to understand the impact of team mates you have to see how a player has done over the years. It’s clear that Xavi got better as he got bigger players around him something that Cesc doesn’t have.

      In early years, Xavi played without big names and he had the chance to shine but he couldn’t and Barca didn’t win anything and Spain didn’t either. Fabregas hasn’t won anything but his performances are staggering considering he isn’t even playing with the stars that Xavi has with him right now.

      I wouldn’t say Henry is better than Rooney but if Rooney had still been with a smaller team like Everton and achieved as much as he has then I would say Rooney is better than Henry because he would’ve done well at a younger age in a relatively weaker squad. Once again its a combination of factors, not sure you will understand it.

  23. Aussie Jack says:

    Stats are only as good or bad as you want them to be, and `dats a fac 2`…….

    Another “football” fact is that the true potential of Fabregas can only be realized when he is surround by players of his own level. End of story.

  24. Fenix says:

    Oops, whose -> who

    Well, let’s get to the meat of the matter then: just who is the better player?

    Fabregas is most probably impressing more than Xavi did at this age. His 23 goals this season is just mind-boggling.

    But where the hell was Fabregas for most of the first leg while Xavi was completing ~100 passes? It’s telling that he can’t displace Xavi in the Spain lineup at this moment, forcing Fabregas to move up from his normal position as Marcus mentioned. If you want to keep possession, Xavi is your man for the occasion, period. His vision, reading of the game, passing, movement off the ball, and ability to turn away from opponents are easily among the best the world has ever seen.

    That said, I think Fabregas has the potential to surpass his childhood heroes. I’m looking forward to seeing him improve even more over the next few years.

    Also, lol @ the “best analysis i have ever read in my lifetime” comment. People are so unquestioning when they hear what they want to hear.

    • desigunner says:

      In this quarter final the only difference was Messi and to some extent Ibrahimovic. If Arsenal swapped attackers with Barca Arsenal would have won both legs easily.

      Arsenal could never get out of the half because they know Messi can destroy them as he did for the 3rd and 4th goal. Once Arsenal don’t get out of the half it’s an unnatural form of football for them and they are not a team that can defend for 180 minutes. The whole passing game broke down and there wasn’t much Fabregas could do.

      As I’ve mentioned in the article people don’t realize the impact a player like messi has even when he is just standing in one corner. Everyone in the opposition knows one mistake and within seconds he can murder you. Xavi is lucky to have him on his side.

  25. leroy says:

    well i gotta agree with ur stats tht true fab is better blah blah…but cmon lets face it…and i knw this…individually fab can stand out…but what has fab honestly done that has ripped apart defenses…u can read the assist and say oh wow…have u watched them all…infact have u watched Xavi’s i don mean to boast…but i was shown this link by a gunner…Its Shameful…i know u guys wanna gloat abt it…but OPEN UR EYES…Fab has the time to reach LEVEL XAVI…right now while he is playin on LEVEL FABREGAS let him learn…in short the tally mark 1 increase on the assist when a pass could be very simple…but in an enigmatic pass which i seen xavi do for quite a qhile and in case u guys missed out last season…well those episodes are freely available on YOUTUBE…go take a look…use a tissue box while u there…Stats show the Madrid are the greatest team…there is a difference when ON the FIELD and ON PAPER…besides to quiten this situation…the role played by both these players are not similar…

    • desigunner says:

      I know the kind of assists you are talking about and Fabregas did that when he was a 17-18 year old kid and Henry was playing in front of him. Or just watch some of his assists for Adebayor. Perhaps you should watch some old videos as well!

      • leroy says:

        oh come on dude…one u gt fab in a whole diff place…2 u compare him to the maestro…see i told u the stats on the paper well i gotta agree to it;they will mark up more than xavi…but ask urself can fab really compose the game to his tune…the way xavi does…NO…can fab give tht one deadly pass…yeah maybe…can he do it day in and day out week in and week out…NO…fab has not my friend just not reached LVL XAVI…he will one day…just not as of yet…

      • leroy says:

        some is not gonna make him better…some just show he has the potential to be better…

  26. Fenix says:

    By the way, here’s Xavi et al. passing Liverpool off the park in the Champions League, 2001:

    Final through ball by Xavi, as it turns out. You really don’t know your stuff.

    • Fenix says:

      Can’t help it, here’s the translation of the commentary 30 seconds into the video:

      Commentator 1: Liverpool can’t spread the ball around at all here.
      Commentator 2: You have to respect Xavi.
      Commentator 1: Absolutely, this is all his work.

      I’m done for now 🙂

      • desigunner says:

        Yeah it happens in a few games. But Barca didn’t achieve anything with him and neither did Spain. The fact remains that Barca had to buy Ronaldinho and Deco and both had a bigger impact. And when they lost their attitude once again Xavi couldn’t win anything till Messi rose to the occasion.

        Point is Xavi is excellent when he has star players around him and you have no factual evidence to the contrary.

      • Fenix says:

        And? Has Fabregas won anything apart from an FA Cup with Arsenal, even when you had Henry, Bergkamp, Ljungberg, etc? Has Fabregas won anything with Spain without Villa, Torres, and … Xavi?

        And yes, Xavi is quite excellent when he has star players around him. I’ve got no complaints there 😉

      • desigunner says:

        That’s the whole point! Fabregas as a kid in a relatively weaker attack is doing far better than what Xavi did in a similar situation, even though both didn’t win much in terms of trophies.

        The other part of the argument is that you can’t compare Xavi behind star players with Fabregas in a weaker attack and assume Xavi is better. Xavi had his time alone and he didn’t do anything. Once Fabregas gets some big players around him we will see the heights he reaches.

      • Fenix says:

        Uh, let me clarify that:

        Your summary was “Xavi is excellent when he has star players around him.” Does that imply anything about how he plays without an all-star cast? No.


        I guess I failed at being a smartass there, haha.

      • desigunner says:

        That particular line is one thing but we are discussing this in the context of the article. The article has enough stats that imply the contrary. I can’t keep on spelling the whole thing out each time just because you want to react to a few words.

        Seems like you just want to go around in circles because once you put everything together there is no argument left for you.

  27. Ardian says:

    Bullshit Xavi is best midfielder in business although I would love to be different but you could see game at the Emirates and be convinced. This article can be summed up with the famous sentence “Lies. Damn Lies. And Statistics…”

  28. JH says:


    Gael Clichy has returned back to his finest form, and his humongous efforts and heart he puts out on the field warrants the role.

  29. Still King Kolo says:

    This is interesting stuff. One thing you can say, is that there is no way on earth Xavi could swap with Fab in the EPL and produce 23 goals. Or even dare I say so many assists. We miss so many chances we should take, Fab’s assists ratio should be higher… if we had Kevin Philips or some other goal poacher upfront, Walcott’s assist rate would shoot up too… its all conjecture in the end. I do agree though that I remember Xavi back in the day and he was good but on his own in that team…exactly the same as Fab now. Good but missing high quality support players. If we could have Van P for a season we win the league as he would have 20-25 goals now…

    • desigunner says:

      That’s one of the points I’m trying to highlight. When Xavi was on his own, he wasn’t that special as Cesc is now without a great leading cast in front of him.

      So it’s a safe assumption that Cesc would only get better if he got better players in front. We’ve seen glimpses of this when he played with Henry and when RvP was fit.

  30. Maddy says:

    Hmmm, I wouldn’t agree entirely with you here. I think i quote you when i say, they don’t exactly play the same position/role.

    Xavi is more of a distributor and his greatest strength is his unbelievable capability to keep the ball. Like SAF said, I don’t think he’s EVER given the ball away! With the effectiveness of their front 3 while they play a 4-3-3 he doesn’t really NEED to make that killer final throughball. Which explains why he doesn’t have so many assists (assuming the stats are right of course)

    Cesc on the other hand is the sole connection between Song and the front 3. Our front 3 are more of finishers/goal scorers as opposed to Messi, Ronaldinho, Eto’o who can/could create as well as they could finish.

    Which is why, I again quote yuo, stats are misleading and can be interpreted to justify anything.

    Cesc is my personal god, but Xavi is something special himself.

    • desigunner says:

      Cesc is presently playing a different role for two reasons. One – we don’t have the kind of class in attack that Barca have, two – Cesc can do it on his own as he has shown this season and even in previous seasons while Xavi hasn’t done that in his past.

      The point of this article is that there is enough evidence to suggest that Cesc can do what Xavi does but there isn’t enough to say Xavi can do what Cesc does. Which makes Cesc a player with a wider set of skills and a lot more talent and in effect a better player.

  31. Phemzy says:

    Hahahaha okkkkeh i now see the reason why they want fabregas back.

  32. tomastown says:

    great analysis btw, though you could argue cesc did play behind rvp and arshavin, 2 world class players at that… but then again only for brief periods.

  33. Hong_gunner says:

    I’ll say this time and time and again. Comparing two totally different players is playing fantasy manager. Cesc is my personal favourite, i wont need to mention, but comparing stats in not exactly a good way to categorise players. Xavi is a playmaker who plays very very deep, compared to cesc. If you were to compare xavi, xavi alonso might be a better option, but not cesc. Kevin philips has 250 career goals. Did madrid ever put a bid on the guy? Stats will never reveal the overall gameplay of a player, neither his off the ball movement(well, they do to some extent, by calculating distance covered minus possession on the ball, but only roughly). They are two very very different players and im not sure why this comparison is coming into the scene. Cesc has a long way to go, but he’ll become a great player in a league of his own(no comparisons).
    P.s: soccernet? Its football, not soccer.

    • james says:

      Smart gunner, thanks for adding a huge reality-dose to this.
      Different players, different roles, different teams, different times. Age and the barca team’s greatness/ the spanish use of the great understanding btween club players Iniesta and Xavi probably give Xavi a big nudge here (a fact that is not slight on cesc cause quite frankly, he’s much younger and will learn/grow).

      • desigunner says:

        the most irrelevant comparison anyone can do is narrow down the horizon to one or two games or even a season or so and then say this guy had 100 odd passes at 90+% success.

        That’s the reason i’m trying to look at the broader picture.

      • james says:

        No one brought up one or two games a season, we just brought up the only game between that involved both players on opposite sides for better or worse.
        By the way, Xavi’s passing rate is out of this world, its not just an aberration, its the broader picture.

    • desigunner says:


      Even I’ve said in the past that such comparisons are not 100% valid and I completely agree with you there are many variables that make an impact. That is the reason i’ve tried looking over a period of time on the influence a player has had on his team. These stats are the closest we can get to a rational argument on a complex topic.

      My personal opinion is that I’ve seen Cesc in the Xavi role and he’s done it really well. Now he’s moved on and added to his game and hence he is a better player in a broader context and Xavi will never do that.

      This is not an attempt to belittle Xavi in any way as I’ve tried to repeat on many occasions but at the same time I cannot accept the common notion that Xavi is far superior to Cesc.

      • Fenix says:

        Ah, here we go. I don’t think anyone reasonable is claiming that Cesc is far behind. On the other hand, most of this page reads exactly like an attack on Xavi. If he was only “ordinary” earlier in his career, he would’ve been shipped off long ago. If he is worse than Fábregas – or half of Fábregas – he would never have won Player of the Tournament at UEFA 2008, 3rd in Balon d’Or and FIFA World Player (many of us were saying that he should’ve won instead of Messi), and – if you paid attention before Leo’s recent hat-trick spree – have the English media squawk that Messi has no clue how to play without the Barcelona midfield scheming behind him. It’s hard to con the entire world when it’s the width of a pane of glass away.

      • desigunner says:


        You seem to have a tendency of picking on the words and missing the forest for the tree.

        I’ll try one last time. See my comment at the bottom.

  34. Ole Gunner says:

    The point you make in thi article about Cesc and Xavi is something I’ve said for 3 seasons now and people laugh at me for reasons I can’t fathom.

    Let me start by saying your stats do NOT show that Cesc is better than Xavi. It shows that Cesc is a better goalscorer, and his passing is more productive than Xavi’s. No more.

    Being a better player also includes things like courage, tactical knowledge, defensive contribution, stamina, fitness, consistency and 100 other variables. Stats can never prove one player is better than the other, only that one has done any measured thing better than the other.

    Having said that, there is no doubt that for club and country, Cesc Fabregas’s passing is every bit as accurate as Xavi’s whereas, Cesc’s passing is much more productive. It’s not only assists, it’s also the number of chances created.

    Also, when you factor in age as you have done, the relative strength of the team, Cesc seems a better passing talent than Xavi. That’s an objective fact.

    Even when you include more subjective judgements like the variety of the passing, I still think Cesc is better all-round at passing, because he can lay it long, short, fast, slow, chipped, spun, whatever.

    Also, look at the stats for the amount of ground covered per game and it seems Cesc has a better work rate than Xavi.

    There are other unmeasurables though; things like how efficiently he uses space and makes space for himself….

    Maybe Xavi is better in that. We don’t know that he is. Nobody has measured it.

    I don’t know if Xavi contributes more defensively, in terms of tackles won, interceptions and the like.

    What I am absolutely convinced of is that Cesc is a better passer of the ball than Xavi, a conviction founded on how much more productive his passing is.

    Having said all that, I want to say that we should not underestimate the fact that Xavi is the Captain of the best side of the world, a very important member of that team, and also Captain and very important part of one of the world’s best national teams-Spain.

    • kirsten says:

      honest dude, you dont watch barcelona play.period. You should have stated your opinion on fab because you watch him play. your opinion on xavi and take on his play is so wrong.

      • Ole Gunner says:

        I watch Barcelona a lot. I see Barcelona play more than I see any team other than Arsenal. That’s been the case for like 15 years.

        I’ve seen Xavi in 3 different Barcelona squads and 2 different Spain squads.

        So you’re very wrong that I don’t watch Xavi.

        Everything I’ve said is based on fact. Cesc is a much more productive passer of the ball, and he’s as accurate a passer of the ball as Xavi. He covers more ground…etc etc.

        Fact. verifiable fact.

    • desigunner says:

      You know I was trying to use the stats as a starting point and not in anyway as the only point for discussion.

      The main point I wanted to bring out was that there is far more to Fabregas and his complete set of talents far outstrip even the best in the business. Have tried explaining this in another comment below.

    • kirsten says:

      here is a fact: barca will never trade xavi for fabrigas.never.not in a million years. you can make him the best that you want him to be, but our little maestro is the best in the business today. we will keep our xavi.and then we have jonathan dos santos. ever heard of him? he will be filling the xavi position soon.but until then, xavi is the best for our style in the entire world.if fab was that good, one of barca or real could have snatched him from you.

  35. senprudent says:

    Really good analysis….!!!

  36. Mathabatha says:

    No ways. Bullshit… If that’s the case then, Messi, Ronaldinho, Eto’o and all the other superstars would be performing the same way they did. These guys have potential, but excel when they come to Barca. Xavi has been at Barca for years. This guy seems to forget that Barca has been a super power for ages. Remember the Rivaldo days…? Still, Barca was kick arse. I don’t particularly agree with this guy. Xavi is a holding midfielder not a support midfielder. Why compare him to Fabregas who is a support midfielder? There is another guy, Iniesta. He’s as tight but plays in a similar role to Xavi. I don’t agree with this guy’s logic. His way of comparison is very valid and factual, it’s just out of the whole point. Xavi can hold onto the ball, protect it and pass much better than Fabregas. Look, I’m sure you’ve seen the one tough football that Barca plays. Over 224 PASSES in the midfield? Does Arsenal boast such a record?? I’m an Arsenal supporter but I don’t think that’s a fair comparison. English football is also very different from Spanish Football. You can see that Spanish football is always about playing the ball in the middle of the park and all of a sudden, some monster player gets a killer pass and runs from Middle all the way to scoring. I have to agree with James comment. Xavi it TIGHT! Iniesta is better in my opinion though. Saw how he destroyed ManU last year?

    • mike in africa says:

      i wouldn’t say iniesta is better, he has more tools as a player, but xavi always performs at the highest level; and his footballing intelligence and decision making is better than that of iniesta’s.

  37. mike in africa says:

    stats alone always tell a small part of the story. let’s talk abt iniesta from last season, few will deny that he was one of the best attacking midfielders if not the best. yet his stats goal-wise and assist-wise have always been very average.

    ronaldinho’s best days at barca produced comparable numbers to cesc this season; however, no one would dare putting cesc in the same bracket as dinho. dinho at that time was the undisputed king of football.







  39. desigunner says:

    Lets say there is a Xavi role in this world. Call it deep lying playmaker or whatever. Suppose someone can analyze all attributes objectively and rate the players. Lets say for the sake of discussion that Xavi is the best in the world and gets 95/100. My contention is that in that specific role Cesc will get 85-90/100 and won’t be far behind.

    The thing doesn’t end here and most of you seem to be lost in this. Xavi has his domain and he might be the king of it right now with big players around him. But Cesc is there or thereabouts.

    Now there is another role. Call it the bergkamp role or in the hole role or top of the diamond role or whatever. Suppose someone does a similar analysis and Bergkamp comes up as one of the worlds best with 95/100. My contention is that Cesc will be 85/100 even in that role and Xavi has never done anything like that.

    To me Xavi is excellent in what he does. Cesc does far more. A guy who can get 85 in two roles is twice the player of a guy who gets 95 in one. It doesn’t make Xavi bad. He is superb at what he does but Cesc is in a completely different league. I don’t know how else to explain this point.

    • mike in africa says:

      For me, this argument makes the most sense compare to all your other arguments. what you’re essentially saying is cesc is more versatile than xavi, therefore he’s better.

      i’m sure few will disagree that cesc is more versatile; there’re many players more versatile than xavi: iniesta and gerard are just two examples. take iniesta, he could play at RW, LW, AM and CM. he’s perhaps more or much more effective than xavi at all these positions but CM.

      xavi playing the xavi-role, is in a league of his own (at least at the given moment). for spain and barca, there’s no one better to play this role than xavi himself. cesc’s versatility and incredible talent makes him invaluable to arsenal, but many fans (especially cules) prefer a true master who’s the best at what he does.

    • vicsoc8 says:

      So a “jack of all trades” is better than a “master of his field”?

      I completely disagree, give me the master any day.










  42. jerome says:

    it just goes to show how much you know about football, really.

  43. Nivas says:

    dude, i m an indian. its really pleasin 2 c that there are fans like u 4 arsenal here. most dumbshits around me are all fans of manu. really a very good analysis! i ve read your blogs many times. u r doing a great job.

    i wanted to ask this 2 u. i m a very big fan of carlos vela n its really frustrating to see tht wenger never gives him some minutes. Apart from the passport issue in the barcelona game, there were many occasions he shud have got his time. he right now far better than eduardo. yet he is on the bench or not even that.
    your thoughts on one of my favourite players in arsenal n his lack of minutes????!!!

  44. Leego says:

    Obviously those who think Xavi suddenly became the best mid fielder in the world have not been watching enough spanish league. Xavi have always been playing at that level the only difference was now there are finish product to him play. back then when Xavi who was playing deeper in midfield mad his passes the wasnt much end product and even if there was end product and even if there was end product the fact that he was playing so deep other like Dinho and Deco got the praise. If you people was watching football with out bias there would be any argument hear cause where Cesc is a great player Xavi for the last 3 year have been end and shoulder above the rest. you guy are starting to sound like Man U fans when they Ferdinand is the best deffender in the world. a mean there was a reason y spain coach in euro 08 told his side that if we want to win the championship just give Xavi the ball a

  45. james says:

    Here’s to desigunner posting more comparisons today: xavi- overrated, i guess so…

  46. kirsten says:

    i hope desigunner saw the barcelona game against real madrid. would fabrigas have performed like xavi did in the game?does fabrigas perform in such big games?i remember the 2008 euro final.where was he? fabrigas with all his talent is nowhere near xavi. he can score because he is forced to score for you. if Messi, slatan,Pedro,henry, bojan,keita and jeffren stop scoring goals, then xavi will step up, move up the pictch next to the opponents box and score goals.but for now his role is to make those above-mentioned players look good and to keep the barcelona fans wowed with silky playing and beautiful soccer.but can fabrigas control the tempo of the game and dictate play like xavi does? You mention xavi been better because he plays with superstars. Question is can fabrigas make such superstars play? can fabrigas command rhythm and direction for such superstars? see it comes with responsibility. to be the best you have to play with the best and perform with and against the best consistently. if you wanna the best of xavi, bring on a big game, raise up the stakes(e.g, second leg against arsenal, second leg against inter, 2009/10 eufa finals,chelsea, real madrid,euro 2008 final,etc).fabrigas can lead bendnor and walcott, but can he lead(lead in terms of play, controlling the play and tempo.if u havent realised every barca move goes through xavi) messi,eto’o, henry and slatan?can he dictate the tempo for those set of players and make them score tons of goals?if there’s anything, fabrigas can learn a lot from xavi, his idol. for all it’s worth, u can sell fabrigas to real madrid so that he can come face to face with xavi more often just like another xabi alonso who was also thought to be better than xavi.then we will see them head to head.but we just witnessed the first leg of the quarters.

  47. meta says:

    xavi, over the two legs of the quarter-final, completed more passes than the entire arsenal midfield combined. he ripped arsenal apart at will and played them like a fiddle. he then did the same to real madrid. he did it to man utd in the european cup final, and to germany in the european championship final.

    what’s gooner for “suck on that”?

  48. Rivaldo says:

    Xavi is the best midfielder in the world. Hands down. Fabregas, for all his talent, is nowhere near Xavi. Where is he on the big games? Where was he against Barcelona? All he did was score a penalty, he was absolutely invisible…whereas Xavi put out a man of the match performance and was in the center of everything. Just goes to show how much you know about football, really…And please use correct statistics next time you write..actually, do all of us a favor and stop writing about football.

  49. jordi™ says:

    When Cesc dominates a big game we can talk.No, Tottenham Hotspur do not count.

  50. vicsoc8 says:

    If you’re going to use stats to compare a player, you have to use much more comprehensive stats. Sorry, but goals and assists doesn’t get close to telling the whole story.

    For example, compare passes completed per game between the two, and you’ll see that Xavi eats Fabregas alive.

  51. diegomessi says:

    All those stats, but no trophies.. hmmmm Whatever makes you crazy gunners stay happy. stats hahahahahaha o stats

    is your name by any chance justin? or Nuts?

  52. Marc says:

    “Their national team is now doing well because they have guys like Torres and Villa”. With all due respect, have you seen Spain play recently. If so tell me what you thought of Torres’ performance?
    Also you say that Xavi was just average before 2008. Tells me instantly that media hype clouds your judgment. The fact is Xavi started as a deep lying player pulling the strings from deep when he took over Guardiola’s mantel, before moving to a more advanced position when Rijkaard come. In fact before he major injury in 2005/2006 he was the best midfielder in Spain.
    Also Cesc will perform better if he is surrounded by better players so you say. If so when Cesc plays for Spain he doesn’t perform better also Hleb didn’t perform better at Barca than for arsenal. Or the Totti of Roma versus the Totti of Italy.
    Also one can use stats to prove just about anything, no matter how misleading. To me attacking players will naturally have higher stats because of the area of the pitch they operate in. Fabregas this season is basically a deep lying forward. Using stats you can prove that Gerrard is a class above Michael Laudrup or Zidane.

  53. SwiftGuyver says:

    Cesc himself would say Xavi is way ahead of him…he is one of Cesc’s idols along with Guardiola…

    you obviously don’t know your history…go do some real homework and look at the real details before you start running your mouth…you just follow media hype and look at goals/assists stats…that does not give you the overall picture…

    Xavi is the heartbeat of the best team in Spain/Europe/the World…

    him and Iniesta keep Cesc out of Spain’s starting lineup…

    Cesc decided to move to Arsenal because he saw Xavi and Iniesta ahead of him at Barca and thought he would have a better chance of first team football with the Gooners…

  54. barca96 says:

    i wonder how many assists or goals cannavaro had in order to win the best player award in 2006

  55. Call me Manny says:

    Obviously it is alot easier to read stats from a screen or paper than knowing what to look for on the football field.
    It’s getting more and more difficult to see the difference between trolls and english football critics. I think it’s some kind of bitterness and an “awakening” to the fact that premier league no longer is “the best league” in the world.

  56. SwiftGuyver says:

    Barca will get Cesc back one day soon and he will be Xavi and Iniesta’s understudy once again until Xavi decides to hang up his boots…

    by the way your original position for position analysis was retarded…you clearly don’t watch Barca much or La Liga in general…at least you got taught a lesson in the quarter finals…the only position at Arsenal you could argue is better/the same as Barca is LB…Clichy is just as good as Abidal/Maxwell and he is younger than both of them…the rest of the starting 11/squad Barca completely and utterly outclass you…they proved all this anyway…actions speak louder than words and all that…

  57. rijkato says:

    let he that has eyes read…,digest n conclude cesc b da badman…. soon world player iz kamin hom 2 da gunners!!!!!!!!!!!!

  58. wengerball says:

    I know I’m late on this one, but I’d like to add that Cesc has more caps for spain than Iniesta.

  59. SolsaGooner says:

    well done mate couldnt agree more!! Cesc is the main man well better than xavi easily

  60. CatalanSingh says:

    I think you are OVER analysing – quite simply there is no substitute for experience. Xavi has become a better player as he has got older. regardless of who his team mates are.
    also, you should not say he was an ordinary player years ago – xavi has mentioned ac milan and man utd tried to buy him around 2004/2005. this surely cannot be the sign of an “ordinary” player.

  61. deb says:

    Statistics alone is not sufficient to compare the two players. Assists number only indicate the immediate assist, not the third to last touch etc.

    In any case, the value of Xavi is not in the number of goal or the number of assist. Xavi dictates the tempo of the game, the play of the team. If you want to use statistic to valuate Xavi, why don’t you look at his pass rate.

    The way Xavi dominates possession for the team, and feeds his teammate balls.. is just beyond amazing. There’s a reason why Barcelona hasn’t really gone after Fabregas.. it is because Fabregas would only be a sub at Barca at the moment.

  62. Jubei says:

    Cesc warms the bench for both Xavi and Iniesta. So there goes the arguement.

    If he was that good how come he hasn’t replaced Xavi then?

    You guys are hilarious. Xavi 3rd in the voting for the Ballon D’Or…Cesc, well nowhere to be found.

  63. kirsten says:

    let’s talk achievements:

    Xavi with Barcelona

    * Spanish League (5): 1998–99, 2004–05, 2005–06, 2008–09, 2009–10
    * Spanish Cup (1): 2008–09
    * Spanish Supercup (4): 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010
    * UEFA Champions League (2): 2005–06, 2008–09
    * UEFA Super Cup (1): 2009
    * FIFA Club World Cup (1): 2009

    Xavi with Spain U20

    * FIFA U-20 World Cup : 1999

    Xavi with Spain U23

    * Olympic Games: 2000 Silver Medal

    Xavi with Spain

    * UEFA European Football Championship: 2008
    * FIFA World Cup: 2010

    Xavi Individually

    * Don Balón Award for Breakthrough Player of the Year: 1999
    * Don Balón Award for Spanish Player of the Year in La Liga: 2005 [12]
    * Euro 2008 Player of the Tournament
    * FIFPro World XI: 2007–08, 2008–09
    * IFFHS World’s best playmaker: 2008,2009
    * UEFA Team of the Year: 2008, 2009
    * Team of the Year: 2008
    * La Liga 2008-09 Top assist provider (20)
    * La Liga 2009-10 Top assist provider (14)
    * UEFA Champions League 2008-09 Top assist provider (7)
    * UEFA Club Best Midfielder: 2008–09
    * La Liga’s Best Midfielder: 2009
    * Ballon d’Or: 3rd Place 2009 5th place 2008
    * FIFA Club World Cup Bronze Ball: 2009
    * 2009 FIFA World Player of the Year Third
    * Trofeo Alfredo di Stéfano: 3rd best player in La Liga 2009–10
    * FIFA World Cup All-Star Team: 2010
    * 2010 FIFA World Cup: most passes completed, most chances created, longest distance ran.
    * 2010 FIFA World Cup Man Of The Match Vs Paraguay Vs Portugal


    • kirsten says:

      Cesc with Arsenal


      * FA Cup: 2004–05
      * FA Community Shield: 2004–05


      * UEFA Champions League: 2005–06
      * Football League Cup: 2006–07
      * FA Community Shield: 2005–06

      Cesc Internationally


      * FIFA World Cup: 2010
      * UEFA European Championship: 2008


      * FIFA U-17 World Championship: 2003
      * UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship: 2004

      Cesc Individually

      * FIFA U-17 World Championship Golden Shoe: 2003
      * FIFA U-17 World Championship Golden Ball: 2003
      * UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship Golden Player: 2004
      * Bravo Award: 2006
      * UEFA Team of the Year: 2006, 2008
      * Premier League Player of the Month: January 2007, September 2007
      * ESM Team of the Year: 2007–08
      * PFA Young Player of the Year: 2007–08
      * PFA Team of the Year: 2007–08, 2009–10
      * UEFA Team of the Tournament: 2008

    • Vermaelen says:

      Exactly, you can see that most of Xavi’s achievements are recent, especially the individual ones, indicating he was a good player but not an outstanding one. Meanwhile, you can also see Cesc’s are also quite recent, however he’s still very young and will only improve and achieve more things. This does suggest he is a better player overall.

    • desigunner says:

      Revist Xavi’s list of honours and you will see that most of them are after 2004-05. The only one before that was in 1999 I think when he was a kid in a brilliant team, kind of similar to the FA cup for Cesc. Xavi has some youth medals and so does Cesc.

      The key point is that before the age of 24-25 , something Cesc hasn’t yet reached, Xavi had no significant achievements in Spain or Internationals. From 99-2004 he played for Barca and won zilch – quite similar to what’s happening with Cesc right now.

      Even after that age Xavi has some medals but Barca won only after signing players like Eto’o, Ronaldinho, and Deco who were much more influential in that team. So Xavi got the medals but he was a supporting cast member. Even in 2008 when he was phenomenal, he played behind Eto’o, Messi and Henry who were all in great form.

      Give me one example of Xavi being the best player of the team that achieved a big trophy. Even at the world cup, Spain struggled to score and it was either down to some individual moments by Villa or their attacking play improved after Cesc came on as a sub.

      You’ve listed top assists in la liga as xavi’s accomplishments. But even at such a young age, Cesc has more total assists and goals than Xavi, even though he has been injured for large parts in the last two seasons.

      We also have to consider that last year the premier league gave the player of the year to Rooney but if you analyze the contributions objectively, as i did in a separate article you’ll find on this site, you’ll see that Cesc should have won it. The point here is that the league you play in, the team you play for, the team mates you are with, and other such factors make a huge difference.

      Don’t get me wrong, Xavi is a brilliant player in his own right but Cesc is in a different class. A rough example would be Rooney and Messi. The Englishman is phenomenal but he is no match for Messi.

  64. petter says:

    i struggle to keep calm here. but ill try.. xavi`s strenghs is mainly to control a midfield, let the opposition be outplayed. his skill, agility/balance, creativity and passing ability is much much better than fabregas. that is why he outplayed you at emirates and nou camp.. and uniteds midfield was reduced to spectators in 08/09 cl final. thats why he was close to winning best player in world last season, and maybe will win it this time around. thats why he was best player last euro, and one of the best this world cup. thats why.. do you get the point arsenal fanboy? its the contribution you make that make your side win, thats important. add to this, he is spactacular to watch, a real entertainer. fab is not.
    don`t get me wrong, fab is very good. but not at xavis level, fact is: few in the history of football is at xavis level. btw your statistics is wrong, xavi got loads of assists not noted there.

  65. petter says:

    i also want to point out that when a player get honours, its often when they have their best years behind them.. take figo for instance, in the early 2000s he was often in the run for best player, when he had gone to madrid. ironically he was twice the player in the mid and late 90`s for barca. i think most will agree on this, and there are many similar cases. you say xavi played a perifer role in earlier teams, most play was directed by deco and ronaldinho. thats wrong. they played mostly as forwards, or atleast very offensive players, leaving xavi to be playmaker. the perception of how good xavi and other players are, is dictated by the hype of the media. he have always been close to todays standard. difference now is he is playing a little more upfront, a good idea considering his world class break through passes. he now get assists, lots of them. getting the spotlight as a reward.

    • desigunner says:

      You can have your opinion, it’s the same points that have been discussed over and over in this thread.

      Xavi will always be the third or forth best player in a team. In one year when he had the best time of his life, at the age of 28, he was the second best.

      I won’t be wasting any more time on this thread replying to the same old incomplete subjective arguments.

      • petter says:

        subjective..? your the one with the nick containing gunner in it 🙂
        joke aside, it was an interesting thread and it was nice to read other fans views.

  66. Simple says:

    Great job man…..totally agree to you….Xavi just plays under the shadow of Messi, not only Xavi, Barcelona itself plays under Messi…without Messi , Barcelona is nothing. Xavi is a very much overrated player.

  67. your 95% correct about dat !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  68. Ryan says:

    I wonder what all the people going on about Cesc being nowhere near Xavi’s level would say now that Cesc is at Barca and outshining Xavi in every way. They are on the same team now so there’s no excuses. Messi was pleading for Cesc to join him because they were amazing together at youth level. Now they are reunited and that duo is possibly the most lethal in football. Xavi’s done well, but when you play around the best player’s in the world you’re gonna look good. Cesc is more of a modern day footballer that can do it all. I bet Cesc, Messi, a defender, and a keeper all on a team could beat most EPl teams right now haha

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  71. Jamaal says:

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  72. Time management

    Comparing Cesc and Xavi | Desi Gunner

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