MADRID (AFP) – Barcelona midfielder Xavi believes that some in the Madrid media are trying to demonise his team-mate, the four-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi.
The Argentine was reported to have clashed with Real Madrid assistant boss Aitor Karanka and defender Alvaro Arbeloa after the pair’s 1-1 draw in the first-leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final two weeks ago.
But Xavi has questioned why more attention was not paid to the game itself.
“It is rubbish, speak about football. Why do we not speak about football? This has gone on for 100 years in football and it will continue to happen,” he told the Barcelona-based sports daily Sport.
“Whoever loses ends the game angry: I don’t know if this (the reported clash) happened or not. I didn’t see anything, it doesn’t interest me and I didn’t ask Leo.
“Do they want to present Messi as a bad person, as the bad guy in the film? No, he’s competitive and will continue to be so. What do they want with all this?”
The Spanish international also denied that senior Barca players had run the team in recent weeks as manager Tito Vilanova receives treatment for cancer of the salivary gland.
Xavi instead said that the captains at the club had taken a more prominent role but were still under the guidance of assistant boss Jordi Roura and physical trainer Aureli Altimira.
“Roura has taken the mantle and he speaks every day with Tito. He will return soon and be with us. I don’t know when but it is clear that we miss him.
“They are doing a great job. Jordi, Altimira and also those who have been in the dressing room a long time. We are all one.
“The captains are the ones that control a little bit of everything, we speak if there is a problem, but the routine is the same. Everything is done naturally and I think it is what Tito would want.”
The 33-year-old accepted though that Barca face a big change if and when Victor Valdes decides to leave the club.
The goalkeeper has indicated his intention not to sign a new deal when his current contract expires at the end of next season and Xavi believes he belongs amongst Barca’s greatest ever players.
“He will definitely leave or almost definitely because the decision has already been taken. Valdes is the best goalkeeper in Barca’s history, he has given us three Champions Leagues,” he was quoted as saying.
“He has revolutionised football from a goalkeeper’s perspective. A goalkeeper is now no longer just a keeper but another player who can use his hands. He opens up the pitch in wide areas for us with his passes.”