Xavi - We're the best
Barcelona ace Xavi has claimed the European champions are the best team of the last 20 years.
Last Updated: 06/06/11 3:12pm
Barcelona ace Xavi has claimed the European champions are the best team of the last 20 years and hailed Lionel Messi as the best player of all time.
The Catalan giants swept all before them once again in the recently-completed season and the Spain international insists they come top of the charts from the past two decades.
Barca completed a remarkable season at Wembley when they added the UEFA Champions League trophy to yet another Spanish league crown.
Xavi is well aware of some of the great teams in recent memory and he is of the firm belief that Barcelona's current crop of stars finishes top of the pile.
"There have been some great teams in history, Pele's Brazil, (Johan) Cruyff's Ajax, (Arrigo) Sacchi's Milan but in the past 20 years this Barcelona team is the best," he told Bild.
On Messi, he added: "He is the best player of all time - better than Pele, Maradona or Cruyff. We have to protect him as he is crucial.
"Without him we would not be what we are."
The only black mark on a fine season for Barcelona was the Copa del Rey final defeat to arch-rivals Real Madrid.
Xavi, though, was critical of the approach adopted by Jose Mourinho's men throughout the season.
He said: "Madrid were the hardest opponents but not because they played football but because they wanted to destroy the game.
"I like Manchester United's approach a thousand times better. It would be interesting to see what would happen if Real did play."
Speculation prior to the Wembley showpiece suggested coach Pep Guardiola was on the verge of standing down but Xavi hopes the former Barcelona midfielder "stays forever".
He added: "He (Guardiola) is very intelligent, very enthusiastic and very 'Barcelona-ish'.
"He is a great coach and I hope he stays forever, if not as coach then as sporting director or president."