Messi could adopt Xavi role at Barcelona in a few years, says Guardiola's former assistant Torrent

Lionel Messi Xavi Barcelona

Lionel Messi could step into the role Xavi once filled at Barcelona in a few years' time, according to Pep Guardiola's former assistant Domenec Torrent.

Xavi enjoyed a stellar 17-year career at Camp Nou, during which picked up a staggering 25 trophies including eight La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues. The World Cup winner was widely revered as the finest midfielder in Europe at the height of his career, which reached its pinnacle during Guardiola's historic reign between 2008 and 2012.

The current Manchester City boss established himself among the managerial elite after forging one of the greatest Barca sides in history, with Messi leading their charge in the final third. The six-time Ballon d'Or winner benefitted greatly from Xavi's service during a golden period for the Blaugrana and has since gone on to become the club's all-time record goalscorer.

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Messi has shown no signs of slowing down even as he approaches the latter stages of his career, but Torrent thinks he can adapt to a new position when his physical attributes start to dwindle.

Torrent - who served as Guardiola's number two at Camp Nou - told Spanish publication Ole of Messi's playmaking credentials: "He's a very intelligent player. Often, he drops deep to receive the ball. In a few years, he could play like Xavi if he wanted to.

"He doesn't lose the ball, he gives assists, he has taken care of his body throughout his career.

"If he plays in a deeper position when he logically starts losing pace, he could play as a central midfielder or wherever he wants to and he would do well."

Torrent went on to describe Messi as a once in a lifetime talent, insisting that even when the 32-year-old is a little off his game he still stands head and shoulders above his peers.

"For me, Leo is incomparable," he added. "I don't think I'll see anything like him again in my life. Furthermore, he has been at a high level for 15 years.

"On a day when he's not sharp, he's still the best. A poor game for Leo is two assists and a couple of moves leading to goals.

"I have seen enormous footballers, but nobody who has stayed in the elite for 15 years as he has done."