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Europa League round of 16 draw

Europa League
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Xavi slams Rijkaard era

Barcelona midfielder Xavi launched a stinging attack on former-manager Frank Rijkaard on Friday, stating that he felt like a "cancer" for the club during the Dutch manager's five-year reign.

• Xavi: Clasico will be decisive

Xavi, 32, is widely regarded as one of the world's best midfield operators, but felt as though Rijkaard did not value his talents due to his diminutive stature.

"Rijkaard did not believe in me. He wanted our game to be based on a superior physical level. He believed that it was the only way to be at the same level as the top clubs in Europe," Xavi told French newspaper L'Equipe.

"Four or five years ago, I was [deemed] terrible and useless. I was Barca's cancer! A player 1,70m tall was simply impossible."

Barcelona won one Champions League and two La Liga titles under Rijkaard, but the club's performance has gone up to a new level under Pep Guardiola, with a real Barcelona identity forming over the past four seasons.

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