Suggesting the time has come for Xavi Hernandez to depart his beloved Barcelona feels almost sacrilegious.
Perhaps more than any other player, Xavi has been the perfect embodiment of Barca's style over the last 10 years or so.
An ease of movement and transitional play that is poetic at it's very best, Xavi has that rare ability to always find time and space, no matter how congested the midfield, and dictate the pace of the game.
Laboured, less intense work ethic
However, the conducting is becoming a little more laboured and less intensive these days, the star shining a little less bright.
Which, when you consider what he has put his body through, is no surprise. 60+ games each season for four or five years would take it's toll on any player.
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Indeed, during the last La Liga season, Xavi's 2,349 passes was the most of any player in the top five European leagues. In the Champions League too, Xavi averaged more successful passes (99) per game than Toni Kroos and other pass-masters.
In fact, there is no one in world football that has passed the ball as many times as Xavi, or as accurately since 2006.
Given those enviable numbers, it's entirely fair then that the player himself would be unhappy at the reduced role he is undertaking this season.
Football Espana noted his comments after the Champions League loss to Paris Saint-Germain: "I can’t settle for being a back-up. I want to play as much as I can and change my current situation.
But the team comes first and the Coach decides. It’s not a dramatic situation for me and I will try to change it so I feel more useful."
It may not be a "dramatic" situation for Xavi at the moment, but on current form, there is no way that he can force himself into the team at the expense of either Ivan Rakitic or Andres Iniesta.
New York City
Overtures are also once again being made by New York City in a bid to acquire Xavi's services in January and whilst it may not be his preference to move onto pastures new at this stage, if he is unable to secure the starting berth at Barcelona that he feels is his right, then a move away represents good business for all parties.
Such a move, were it to happen, would also allow the La Masia production line to continuing turning apace in that area, giving youngsters coming through a genuine chance to work at the highest level.
If there is anything good to come out of such a huge loss to the Blaugrana, it's surely the knowledge that a "passing of the baton" means your legend will live on.
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