Xavi has made a real impact since joining RB Leipzig on a season-long loan from Paris Saint-Germain. bundesliga.com spoke to the Barcelona youth product about his electric start, career development and more...
Xavi: "I've been in two different teams at the top level. I know what they ask from you and what they expect from you. The Bundesliga is exciting, so being here is is a pleasure for me, and at the end of the day, enjoying football is the most important thing. That's why I'm performing well, I think."
Watch: All Xavi's Bundesliga goals and assists so far
bundesliga.com: What do you think about the Bundesliga?
Xavi: "I think the intensity of the games is quite high. What I mean with that is that it doesn't matter which team you play against, the intensity of the game is going to be at the top level. You saw it two weeks ago against Bochum, we played out a 0-0, but it's different every game. The style of play is different. I think [it's] more vertical here. People want to go forward faster, so that demands sharpness from you. I think that's quite the difference."
bundesliga.com: You made all your goal contributions across the first four games - what's the reason that's been quieter since then?
Xavi: "One of my goals is to be consistent for the team, to help the team achieve our goals but, as a football player, not everything is going to go well all the time. You're going to have moments where it's going to be a little bit more difficult, moments that you don't feel quite good - but, at the end of the day, after each game, you have another week to prepare. We're also in the Bundesliga-Champions League rhythm, so I'm in a positive mood going into these games."
bundesliga.com: You had a penalty saved against Bochum - how do you finding taking them?
Xavi: "Taking penalties is quite a responsibility. I want to take the risk. I want to and love to have the responsibility, but you can score, you can miss, the keeper can save the penalty. I've been watching the penalty back. It's football, and I have to learn. I'm 20, and I'm hopefully going to take a lot more penalties, so I hope to score them."
bundesliga.com: You're versatile - on the right, on the left, behind the striker or even up front as a centre forward - but what's your preference?
Xavi: "The No.10 position, but we play with both 10s over the left side versus the right side. At the end of the day, I've trained a lot in my life to play in attack. I feel comfortable there."
bundesliga.com: What makes you stand out as a player?
Xavi: "I think I have to experience a lot more and improve a lot, but I would say my mentality, that's the most important thing for me. I think being strong in my head and being sharp every day and enjoying every day, that's the most important thing."
bundesliga.com: What about your pace?
Xavi: "I've worked on my speed a lot. I think I'm quite fast, but there are a lot of players that are faster than me in the Bundesliga."
bundesliga.com: Which attackers in the Bundesliga have caught your eye?
Xavi: "I have one in my team, Loïs Openda - a striker with a lot of speed, can play football and, yeah, I think I play like him."
bundesliga.com: Are you and Openda a dream double act?
Xavi: "Yeah, we've got to know each other after four or five months here. We know each other's qualities. I think we want to make each other better and, at the end of the day, helping the team, achieving the goals, that's the thing, I think."
bundesliga.com: What do you think about Dani Olmo?
Xavi: "Dani is a special, special guy, really talented, and I'm enjoying playing with him. I knew him quite a long time ago when I was a little boy, at La Masia - 10 years old. He was like 15, 14 already, and I saw him as the next big thing in La Masia. Now I'm playing with him it's a pleasure for me, and I really enjoy it."
Xavi: "Really good strikers. I think you see it now how many goals Guirassy has, and I think he helps his team quite a lot now. They are playing well, and Boniface as well and Leverkusen. I think out of everyone, he's the one that I didn't know who he was, but, yeah, I think he's a good really good striker. Strong, fast, good technique. So yeah, he impressed me a lot and Kane - everyone knows him. Top-quality finisher inside the box."
bundesliga.com: Can Leipzig be crowned champions?
Xavi: "I don't think we should set a limit. You have to work every day to achieve your goals, but I think anything can happen in life if you put the work in. You don't know what can happen tomorrow. Being better every day and reaching our top level is out goal."
bundesliga.com: But qualifying for the Champions League is a must, right?
Xavi: "Yeah, it's a goal that the club has, as well as winning the Bundesliga. I think every team wants to achieve that, but there are a lot of teams, and you know that you have to be different than other teams and consistent. That's the most important thing."
Watch: Xavi won the Bundesliga's September Goal of the Month poll
bundesliga.com: What's your favourite moment in the Bundesliga so far?
Xavi: "I would say the first home game against Stuttgart that we won 5-1. That one is the special one. The first one you play at home in front of the fans. We lost the first game of the Bundesliga season, and then you come here and you have to win and, yeah, how we won was special."
bundesliga.com: What's your worst moment?
Xavi: "I wouldn't say the worst moment, but the moment where I have learned the most is the game against Bochum."
bundesliga.com: What about your favourite moment in your life so far?
Xavi: "My life is football, besides my family, but I've been dreaming a lot when I was younger about football and playing at a World Cup, and I finally did it at 19 years old. I've been in the Netherlands squad at a World Cup, and I think that's the most exciting and most beautiful thing that happened in my life so far."
bundesliga.com: And the worst moment in your life?
Xavi: "I would say maybe the death of my grandma and granddad - a really good person. He was always there for me and my brother, and when you're young that is the most painful thing that you can experience, but he's always with me. He's protecting me, so I'm happy that he's with me all the time."
bundesliga.com: How important is your family to you?
Xavi: "Everything. I think you need your need family, for sure. I'll give you an example - my Mum. She called me, like, two days ago. She told me after the game against Bochum that she knew that I missed the penalty, that we drew the match and I'm a guy that when something happens to me, I want to solve it by myself and be on my own for a moment, but she called me she said 'you remember that we are family, that we always support you, that we are with you'. That made me realise that my family is the most important thing that I have in my life. They're everything to me."
bundesliga.com: What would be the title of your own Xavi Movie?
Xavi: "That's a good one. Title? Wow! You surprised me. Can you help me? 'Catch me if you can'? That will be a good one. Yeah, for sure. 'Catch me if you can'."
bundesliga.com: What would have become of you if your football career had not got off the ground?
Xavi: "You know, the thing is, they asked me quite a long of the things, but I always said the same thing: I didn't have any plans besides football. I only wanted to dream about that: the ball and one day playing in the stadium. There was nothing more in my head. So I cannot give you an answer because I don't really know."
bundesliga.com: What do you think of Jünter?
Xavi: "The Borussia Mönchengladbach mascot, right? Like, six or seven years ago, I played in a tournament at Borussia Mönchengladbach. I remember I was captain of the team, so I had to go down and take a picture with the horse [mascot]. Six-seven years later, you're there playing against the first team, and it's good! It's those moments that make you realise that life goes fast. You have to be happy every day, so I brought the picture of him along and, yeah, happy to see him another time."
bundesliga.com: What do you think about social media?
Xavi: "You want the honest answer? It's not real life. For sure, it's good that you can express yourself with all the other people, but real life is here and I know that from years ago that I had quite huge followers, but at the end of the day, it's a new generation and new things that are coming. So, yeah, it doesn't change me as a person."
bundesliga.com: Why do you only want to be called 'Xavi'?
Xavi: "Because I want to make my Mum proud. She's the one that named me 'Xavi'. First, I had explored 'Simons' in my first year as a professional at PSG, but then I changed it to 'Xavi' because I know it's quite special for her. Each day that I step out onto the pitch it's to make her proud."
bundesliga.com: Why did PSG let someone like you go?
Xavi: "I'm proud that I could play for them. I'm also really glad that they stood behind me and that's good, but I made the decision one year ago to go to PSV [Eindhoven] and play my football every day, so I could be better every day and, yeah, now I'm here at Leipzig. I think, for me, the best decision that I could make is to come here and keep developing my style of playing."
bundesliga.com: Who are your idols?
Xavi: "I had two. I still have them, but one doesn't play football anymore. One is Neymar, and the other one is Xavi Hernández."
bundesliga.com: Why those two?
Xavi: "I was at Barcelona. A young guy. You see the guys playing there; I think I've seen the best team in history. I enjoyed watching them. Neymar, for sure, the qualities that he has - the one against one was just crazy and years later, I played with them - with Neymar and Xavi Hernández as well. How he was the leader of the team, scanning everything, each ball - one-two touch. It was beautiful to see."
bundesliga.com: What makes RB Leipzig so special?
Xavi: "Good question. I would say we are a real team. We want to achieve things. We know that it will be hard, but at the end of the day, you have to be consistent. I think that we are a proper team, and I've already played for two-three teams. I've been in two-three teams as a professional, and I see that this is a team. So I would say that."
bundesliga.com: Marco Rose and Xavi - how does that work?
Xavi: "Top combination, I would say. No, he's a coach. I heard from him before I came here and, yeah, really honest coach, if things go well and things don't go too well, he would tell you, for sure. He really wants you to improve and, at the end of the day, being successful with the team, that's the most important thing for him."
bundesliga.com: How and when did you start playing football?
Xavi: "I started playing when I could barely walk. I think at home with my older brother, but if you are talking about at a club, I started in Spain, aged three. Alicante and in the team, local team, yeah. There's where I started."
bundesliga.com: What are your memories from your time at CD Thader?
Xavi: "I still go there. I go back every summer. For me, that's the place that I can be the little Xavi, you know? The people know me from when I was younger, and my best friend still lives there. So, for sure, I still have a really good bond with all of them."
bundesliga.com: Do you still have memories of your transfer to the Barcelona youth team? What was the 'process' like back then?
Xavi: "I joined at the age of seven. It's a beautiful thing for a seven-year-old guy. Then I've been with the older groups, until 16 years old. I think it's one of the best academies in the world. You can see it as well. They produce a lot of good players and, for sure, one of the best clubs in the world."
bundesliga.com: How was moving to PSG for you?
Xavi: "For me, personally, really good. I've experienced a lot more than just football, and for a young guy of 16 years old, yeah, mentally it made me stronger."
bundesliga.com: What role did your family or certain family members play in your development into a professional footballer
Xavi: "They all supported me, for sure; my dreams and the decision that I made. But I'm a person that wants to be better every day as well. So my big brother, he's quite honest with me, and that's really important to improve every day. So he's the one with me; we're working together to get better."
bundesliga.com: Who do you need to thank the most for your journey into professional football?
Xavi: "My Mum, for sure, but the relationship that I have with my brother is different and he is the one that made me realise that, in life, you have to work hard to achieve your dreams. So I would say, my Mum and my brother."
bundesliga.com: Is there a coach who had a big impact on your footballing career?
Xavi: "[Ruud] Van Nistelrooy. He was the one that helped me improve a lot the last year, but not just as a footballer - as a person as well."
bundesliga.com: Which country are you originally from?
Xavi: "We're from Suriname, a little country but, yeah, my whole family's from there. I'm really proud that my family's from there. I've been there a lot. My grandma talked with us in Surinamese. I can't speak it, but I understand a little bit. My brother can, but I say quite a lot of times to my Mum that I'm really proud that I'm Surinamese. Not a lot of people know that because I play for the Netherlands, but I have Suriname in my heart."
bundesliga.com: Have you ever been there?
Xavi: "Yes, I've been there. My family still lives there. You have to go there one time. The food is really good. Everything is good."
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