Po­chet­tino is ‘not my en­emy’

Xavi says quote on Spurs’ Alli a ‘fake’

The National - News - Sport - - LEADING OFF -

DOHA // For­mer Barcelona mid­fielder Xavi said yes­ter­day that Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino was not his “en­emy” and said he could even imag­ine the Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur man­ager one day tak­ing charge at the Cata­lan club.

Xavi, who plays for Qatari side Al Sadd, was speak­ing af­ter an ap­par­ent spat be­tween the pair, fu­elled by com­ments at­trib­uted to the player in an in­ter­view the Spa­niard ve­he­mently in­sists he did not give.

Bri­tish news­pa­per The Sun this week quoted Xavi as say­ing that his friend and for­mer man­ager Pep Guardi­ola wanted to sign Spurs mid­fielder Dele Alli for Manch­ester City.

This in turn prompted a re­sponse from Po­chet­tino in which he la­belled Xavi as his “en­emy”, be­cause of the pair’s ri­valry when the Ar­gen­tine played and man­aged Barca’s city ri­vals Es­panyol.

Xavi though said the whole in­ci­dent was “un­be­liev­able”.

“I feel bad – be­cause the in­ter­view of The Sun was a fake – and it’s the rea­son of Po­chet­tino’s re­sponse,” Xavi said. “I don’t [ have] en­e­mies in my life, even in foot­ball.

“Po­chet­tino’s not my en­emy, he’s not my en­emy. “Be­fore he was the coach of Es­panyol and we fight be­tween Es­panyol and Barcelona. I re­spect him a lot.”

Xavi said Po­chet­tino was do­ing a good job at Tot­ten­ham.

“I like Tot­ten­ham’s style. I like the Po­chet­tino style,” he said be­fore adding he could imag­ine him as Barcelona man­ager in the fu­ture, de­spite his Es­panyol past.

“Why not? I think it’s not a prob­lem,” Xavi said. “A lot of play­ers and for­mer coaches of Es­panyol go to Barcelona.

“I think he can, he’s now one of the best coaches in the Pre­mier League. He could be a good pos­si­bil­ity.” The “fake” row has now come full cir­cle af­ter Guardi­ola said he was not in­ter­ested in sign­ing Alli, 21.

Xavi added he was con­vinced that Guardi­ola would suc­ceed in Eng­land, de­spite the fact he will end the sea­son with­out a tro­phy for the first time in his ca­reer. “It’s not easy be­cause it is an­other cul­ture, it’s an­other re­li­gion in the Pre­mier League,” he said.

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