Barcelona: How Long Can Xavi and Andres Iniesta Run La Blaugrana's Midfield?

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterDecember 13, 2012

"You're going to retire me, but this kid's going to retire us all."

That's what Pep Guardiola whispered to Xavi Hernandez when they saw a 16-year-old Andres Iniesta dazzle the Barcelona coaches when invited to train with the first team setup. 

While Xavi certainly did go on to replace Guardiola in the heart of la Blaugrana's midfield, Iniesta hasn't retired the maestro yet—they've been playing side-by-side for club and country for over five years yielding unprecedented success.

It's obvious what the famed duo bring to the table. They're the staple of the tiki-taka passing mantra and keep Tito Vilanova's team ticking over endlessly. They've been able to lead the attacking charge or rest in possession, depending on what the team needs at the time.

A lot of folks worry about what Barca will do when these two are gone, but is this something that could happen in the actual near future?

It might be that the Catalan giants don't need to worry about this inevitable moment for a good while longer yet.

Xavi and Iniesta are 32 and 28 years of age respectively, but that's young in the modern game. Advancements have seen players continue at a high level well into their thirties, meaning talk of the impending Cesc Fabregas-Thiago Alcantara partnership could be very preemptive.

David Beckham started as a flying winger and retreated into a central midfield role when he lost his pace. Xavi and Iniesta have been playing centrally (for the most part) their entire careers, which could add further years onto their careers.

It's down to them to say when they want to stop, but if Iniesta was reduced to a purely central role, what's to stop them both doing exactly what they do now until they're 38? Or even 40?

Graham Hunter's book "Barca: The making of the greatest team in the world" revealed just how passionate Xavi is about his football, and lent credibility to the suggestion he's cut out for management.

Could his thirst for the game see him carry on for as long as he physically can, like a Ryan Giggs or Paul Scholes, and only then turn to coaching?

Barca fans: When do you think the majestic duo will call it quits and how long can they continue putting in such top-tier performances?