Xavi, who is now with Qatari side Al Sadd, made the remarks during Saturday's media interview at the design launch ceremony for Lusail Stadium, the venue of the opening and closing matches of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Doha. The 38-year-old midfielder said he couldn't understand how Messi finished so low in a vote for football's top individual award.
|Former FC Barcelona football player Xavi Hernandez, who is now with Qatari side Al Sadd, speaks to reporters during the design launch event for Lusail Stadium, the main venue of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, in Doha on Dec. 15, 2018. (Yonhap)|
"In my opinion, it's not my fair," Xavi said of the Ballon d'Or result. "He is the best player that I've seen ever. I would give him every year for Ballon d'Or, but I don't give this Ballon d'Or."
Croatian midfield orchestrator Luka Modric grabbed the award this year, ending the 10-year dominance of Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who have each won the Ballon d'Or five times.
But while Ronaldo was the runner-up in this year's vote, Messi fell out of the top three for the first time since 2007. The Argentine won the Ballon d'Or every year from 2009-12 and then again in 2015 after capturing his fourth UEFA Champions League title.
This year, France's World Cup heroes Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe collected more votes than Messi, who struggled to make a big impact at the top international event in Russia, though his club Barcelona won the Spanish La Liga and the Copa del Rey.
"Modric is all right and I'm happy for him," said Xavi who finished third in the 2010 Ballon d'Or. "But honestly, Messi is the best."
Meanwhile, Xavi confirmed that he would pursue a coaching career next year. And he emphasized that he would begin his new job in Qatar.
"It's almost 100 percent that this season will be my last season, and I'm preparing as a coach," he said. "I have to take my (coaching) license in Madrid in April, but I would like to start from here. I think it's the best country to prepare myself as a coach."
Xavi has been a big promoter of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. He has been also working as the global ambassador for the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, the organizing body responsible for delivering infrastructure for the first World Cup in the Arab world.
It has been speculated that the Spanish star might be involved in coaching the Qatari national team for the 2022 World Cup, but Xavi said he has yet to think about it.
"I don't know, but it's very early to say something," he said.
"Now, I'm very excited as an ambassador of SC and to help them prepare everything. I think they're ready." (Yonhap)