Top Five: Xavi replacements

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Barcelona pass master Xavi is reportedly set for a new deal at the Nou Camp, but it could be the 32-year-old's last in Catalonia.

Barca president Sandro Rossell is thought to be keen to tie down Xavi and Lionel Messi, but while Messi still has almost a decade at the top of his game, Xavi has decidedly less, and Rossell said he'd do whatever it takes to have Xavi retire at Barca.

The metronomic passing supremo has spent his entire career at the Nou Camp, and is a club legend - who could possibly succeed such a talented, and well-loved, star?

Well, that question will have to be addressed sooner rather than later in Catalonia, so GMF explores the possible candidates…

Cesc Fabregas - Barcelona

The natural successor to Xavi could be sitting right next to him in the Barcelona dressing room. Cesc Fabregas returned to his boyhood club last summer for £30m - so the Catalans have already made a sizeable investment in his future.

He left a 16-year-old boy and returned a full Spain international, world-class midfielder and World Cup winner.

He's found it difficult to hold down a starting place at Barca since returning, but then again he does have Xavi blocking his path. A talented passer, Fabregas certainly possesses the attributes to step into the Catalan club's midfield.

Looking to the long-term, Fabregas is perhaps the best bet to step into Xavi's boots.

Mario Gotze - Borussia Dortmund

The next German wonderkid is still just 20 years old, and has been linked with a move away from the Bundesliga.

Barcelona would likely prove tempting for the Germany international, who emerged as one of the key players in last year's title-winning Dortmund side.

Gotze operates slightly higher up the pitch than Xavi, but his similar frame, technical ability and eye for a pass make him an ideal long-term replacement for the Spainard.

Jack Wilshere - Arsenal

Back in 2011, in a Champions League match at the Nou Camp, Jack Wilshere announced his arrival on the European stage.

Arsenal lost that night, but a teenage Wilshere held his own against the likes of Andres Iniesta and Xavi, and outshone teammate and club captain Cesc Fabregas.

The England international has no fear, and is one of few British players to possess the first-touch and passing ability to play in Spain - Arsene Wenger himself recognised that the 20-year-old has "a Spanish technique".

Toni Kroos - Bayern Munich

The 22-year-old already has 32 Germany caps, and has been earmarked as the future star of Joachim Low's midfield.

He's already established himself in the Bayern Munich team alongside Bastian Schweingster, although many see his future position as a number 10.

It's clear that he's a fine player, and should he ever want to leave the Bundesliga, most of Europe's top clubs would chase his signature.

And if Barca need a replacement for Xavi, they could do much worse than to look to Kroos.

Thiago Alcantara - Barcelona

If Fabregas doesn't work out at Barcelona, the Catalans have a second ready-made replacement waiting in the wings.

Thiago Alcantara is already a full Spain international, and the 21-year-old is expected to be the next big La Masia produced Barcelona star.

The son of former-Brazil World Cup winner Mazinho, Thiago is incredibly skilful, with good passing range and an eye for goal - he's is a classic Barcelona midfielder.

Despite a midfield stacked full of world-class talent, he has managed to play his way into the Barcelona first-team. Who better to replace Xavi, then someone who has grown up playing alongside, and learning from, the man himself.

Who do you think is the ideal Xavi replacement? Join the debate by leaving a comment below...

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