FC Barcelona manager Xavi says Mikel Arteta’s rise with Arsenal is no surprise to him, given the former midfielder’s history.
There are a lot of similarities to be drawn between Xavi and Mikel Arteta’s current situations.
Both managers previously played for the club they’re now in charge of, taking over the top job after a few years away. Both of them lead their domestic leagues, and both are also fighting for Europa League success this campaign.
The two could yet end up facing off against each other this season, with Barcelona currently level with Manchester United on aggregate in their play-off tie and Arsenal in the last-16 draw.
Speaking about his compatriot and potential future managerial opponent this week, Xavi insisted Arteta’s rise was no shock to him.
“No, he’s not surprised me because he had the best references and because if you have played as a central midfielder at Barca you already have a headstart — you have the map of your pitch in your head,” Xavi said.
“And because Pepe Reina is a close friend of his and has always spoken very well of him. I had a feeling that Arteta would do very well, but it was just a feeling.
“He is an Arsenal legend and I’m not surprised. I know that people love him and respect him. He is doing very well and taking a chance on the young players, which has even more merit.”
Xavi has picked up his first piece of silverware as Barcelona manager this season, winning the Supercopa de Espana. But given the high standards at the Catalan club, he’ll be hoping for much more come the end of the season.
From an Arsenal point of view, Mikel Arteta will hope Xavi’s season achievements are limited to the domestic game.