Another football generation is coming to an end, as many icon stars including David Beckham and Jamie Carragher have announced their retiring at the end of the season.
Also one of the greatest midfielders of the century, Xavi Hernández, is coming to the end of his career. The 33-year-old Spaniard is no longer at his best, so Barcelona must start the search for a permanent replacement of the midfield maestro.
The successor must adapt well to Blaugrana’s game and maintain the professional passing style with Andres Iniesta on the side.
Here are the top three possible solutions to replacing Xavi in Barca’s Starting 11:
Isco | Malaga & Spain
Isco is a product of Valencia's youth system and moved to Manuel Pellegrini’s side in 2011.
Francisco is an ideal central midfielder and should fit into Barcelona’s game style.
The Spanish international would cost Barcelona around £30m, however the Catalans may then be unable to afford Neymar, who has been linked with a Camp Nou move for some time.
However, if the attacking midfielder would prefer to snub any advances from Barca and join Premier League’s Manchester City or Arsenal instead, it could be difficult for him to become succesful there, due to the heavy game the league provides.
İlkay Gündoğan | Borussia Dortmund & Germany
Sensation of the year at Borussia? His style in the Bundesliga, was comparable to the one Xavi showed in the last season, nevertheless the German international is a 22-year-old centre midfielder, and if well developed at Camp Nou, the triumph would be inevitable.
Two years ago, before Nuremberg's promotion, İlkay was a Second Division player. In May 2011 he joined Borussia Dortmund, being part of a rejuvenating project, and in the upcoming year became the Bundesliga champion.
Lately, Gündoğan made top-class appearances in the two Champions League semi-final games against Real Madrid. Gündoğan’s has attratced the attention of some of the top European clubs after his performances this season.
Thiago Alcántara | Barcelona & Spain
Last but not least is Barcelona’s 22-year old Thiago, who has played some full La Liga matches this season, showing incredible control and calm in the midfield, just like Xavi. The choice of the Italian-origined prodigy brings no financial problems, as the player is already part of the big Blaugrana machine. If only given more big-game chances, Thiago could become a worthy successor. He became the Spanish senior international in 2011, making three national appearances since then. Alcántara is a better play maker than Fabregas at Barcelona, with more successful passes. The player cooperates well with Andres Iniesta - Sergio Busquets duo and also shows great discipline once on the pitch. As a product of La Masia, Alcántara fits perfectly to the game he has learnt since playing for the youth team.
While a move out is unlikely, Thiago Alcántara shall be Xavi’s substitute next season, if any new midfielders aren’t bought.
Xavi Hernandez's power is sadly due to expire and surely one of the above mentioned youngsters would bring more energy to Barcelona’s game next year.
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