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Xavi blasts 'negative element' surrounding Barcelona

Barcelona midfielder Xavi has lashed out at the "negative element surrounding the club", claiming it is affecting the players.

The methods of Blaugrana boss Gerardo Martino have been repeatedly questioned this season, even during a record-breaking start to La Liga, and the criticism of his more direct approach has only intensified after back-to-back defeats, to Ajax and Athletic Bilbao.

It has also been suggested by certain sections of the media that the players have not been training or pressing as intensively as they once did, and Xavi is dismayed by all of the pessimism at Camp Nou.

“We believe in what we are doing, but there is a negative element surrounding the club that doesn’t help," the Spain international told Radio Catalunya.

“I hear things, and what I don’t hear people tell me about, and it seems there are more negative comments than even we are used to.

"But, to be honest, the only time the team has given the impression of not being in control was in the first half against Ajax, and perhaps at times in Bilbao.

"We thought we’d changed the Barca dynamics, but it still appears that the glass is half empty."

Xavi also dismissed the belief that the Liga champions have adopted a radically different style of play since Martino's summer arrival in Catalunya.

“What has changed is that now everybody wants to play like Barca," he argued. "Rayo, Betis, Osasuna, Celta ...

“Yes, we are losing more possession than normal, and it’s something we have to correct. But Martino is a leader who is really fair, knows loads about football and has very clear ideas.

"He hasn’t come to change anything, but rather get back to where we were before. Whether Cesc [Fabregas] or Sergi Roberto plays, we still play the same way. Nobody in the squad would benefit from a change in our style of play.

"We’re not made to run 30 or 40 sprints per match; what we want to do is control the game."

Xavi is particularly disappointed by the negative atmosphere as he is enjoying his football as much as he has done in years.

"I'm in good shape - even better than the previous two seasons," he enthused.

"I’m 33, I’ll be 34 in January and I'm excited about the challenges ahead, challenges that I wouldn’t have with any other team."