Barcelona great Xavi Hernandez insisted on Thursday that Mauricio Pochettino was not his “enemy” and said he could even imagine the Tottenham boss one day becoming coach of the Catalan giants.
Xavi was speaking after an apparent spat between the pair, fuelled by comments attributed to the midfielder in an interview the Spaniard vehemently insists he did not give.
Earlier this week, British newspaper The Sun quoted Xavi as saying that his friend and former coach Pep Guardiola wanted to sign Spurs star 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 Argentinian 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 told AFP in Doha, where he now plays his football.
“I don’t…(have) enemies in my life, even in football.
“Pochettino’s not my enemy, he’s not my enemy.”
He continued: “Before he was the coach of Espanyol and we fight between Espanyol and Barcelona.
“I respect him a lot.
“He’s doing really well at Tottenham. I like Tottenham’s style. I like the Pochettino style.”
Asked if Pochettino was good enough to become a future Barcelona coach, despite his Espanyol past, Xavi replied: “Why not? I think it’s not a problem. A lot of players and former coaches of Espanyol go to Barcelona.”
He added: “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 insisted that he was not interested in signing Alli, the 21-year-old who has just been named England’s Young Player of the Year for the second season running.
Tottenham currently lie second in the English Premier League, four points behind leaders Chelsea.
Xavi also said he was convinced that Guardiola would succeed in England, despite the fact the Manchester City coach will end the season without a trophy for the first time in his career.
“People only look at the results, but for me… City is doing well,” said Xavi.
“I am convinced that next season for sure will be really good.
“It’s not easy because it is another culture, it’s another religion in the Premier League.”