Liverpool midfielder Joe Allen has spoken about the comparisons made between him and Xavi, asserting that the Barcelona man’s level is one he can, and could possibly will, reach in future.
After Brendan Rodgers dubbed him the Welsh version of the Blaugrana playmaker, the pressure has been on the 22-year-old to live up to his billing, but he seems more than ready for that task.
The diminuitive Wales international is preparing to face his old club, Swansea City, a team he made 130 appearances for before following Rodgers to Liverpool last summer.
Allen is clearly keen to emulate the likes of Xavi and Iniesta but is also the first to recognise that he has a lot of work to do before he can reach their level.
“I know I’ve got to work hard on all aspects of my game on all aspects of my game, particularly my goalscoring record, to reach the top level,” he told The Mirror.
“But I’m ambitious and, as long as I keep working and developing, why shouldn’t I aim to be as good as someone like Xavi?”
Allen’s pricetag – €16 million (£13m) – has led to more scrutiny and, inevitably, more detractors; an issue he is both well aware of and capable of dealing with.
“I don’t look at opinions about me as criticism. I treat them as opinions and if they come from the people who have achieved a lot in the game, I take them on board and see if I can learn from them,” he continued.
“I knew the price tag would be a challenge in itself, but I was ready for that and to prove my worth.”