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Xavi Claims Neymar a Better Signing Than Gareth Bale

MALAGA, SPAIN - AUGUST 25:  Neymar (L) and Xavi Hernandez of FC Barcelona line up a free kick during the La Liga match between Malaga CF and FC Barcelona at La Rosaleda Stadium on August 25, 2013 in Malaga, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
Denis Doyle/Getty Images
Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistJanuary 3, 2017

The two biggest signings in world football this summer were Neymar joining Barcelona and Gareth Bale joining Real Madrid, as Spain's biggest clubs continued their ever-escalating arms race in La Liga. 

But if you ask Barcelona midfielder Xavi who the better signing was, he'll side with his teammate, Neymar. Shocking, right?

Here is what he told David Kent of the Daily Mail:

There were some big signings for La Liga over the summer—but for me Neymar is clearly the best.

He hasn’t just shown his quality but he has showed it in the big games like against Real Madrid—and that is where the big players really prove themselves.

Neymar scored a goal and added an assist in Barcelona's 2-1 win over Real Madrid on October 26the game Xavi was referencingearning Man of the Match honors from WhoScored.com.

Xavi added:

I think any questions that were asked of Neymar have been very clearly answered. 

There were many people asking how he would adapt to European football—but I think we have seen very clearly how he has adapted. He is a great player, has a very good attitude, and will go on to be the best player in the world.

It is a big year for him with expectation at Barcelona and then a World Cup in his own country—but he has the confidence and the right attitude to handle it.

The stats back up Xavi's assessment. WhoScored.com has given Neymar a 7.89 match rating in 13 La Liga appearances (four goals, eight assists) and a 7.96 match rating in six Champions League appearances (three goals, two assists).

Meanwhile, the site has given Bale a 7.86 match rating in nine La Liga appearances (seven goals, six assists) and a 7.03 match rating in five Champions League appearances (two goals).

MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 30:  Gareth Bale of Real Madrid CF celebrates after scoring Real's opening goal during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Real Valladolid CF at Santiago Bernabeu stadium on November 30, 2013 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Surely, both clubs have to be pleased with their new signings. Neymar's eight assists in 13 La Liga appearances is pretty remarkable, while Bale has really come on after missing the early part of the season due to injury. 

His seven goals in nine appearances against La Liga competition is basically Bale picking up where he left off from a year ago, when he scored 21 goals in 34 games for Tottenham in the Premier League.

Ultimately, both players seem to be the right fit for the clubs they are playing for. Bale essentially offers Real Madrid a mirror image of Cristiano Ronaldo on the other side of the pitch, making Los Blancos one of the most devastating counter-attacking sides in the world.

Meanwhile, Neymar's creative flair and penchant for the spectacular have been bolstered by the guile and footballing intelligence he has added to his game in his short time with the Catalans.

In the end, Xavi should think Neymar was the better signing, as he was clearly the better signing for Barcelona. Real Madrid could just as easily make the same claim. It's a debate that should rage on for years to come.

 

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