Mario Suarez: Koke a more complete player than Xavi
Valencia midfielder Mario Suarez has claimed that his former Atletico Madrid team-mate Koke is a more complete player than Spain and Barcelona legend Xavi.
Suarez looks set to go head-to-head with Atletico for the first time since leaving the club in July 2015 when Valencia host Diego Simeone's men in LaLiga on Sunday and the contest will have him facing off against a host of familiar faces, none more so than Koke.
Although five years Koke's senior, Suarez has known the Spain international since they were both boys coming through the ranks at Atletico and now Suarez, 29, believes Koke is on course to become one of the world's elite players.
He told Marca: "To me, when compared with Xavi - saving the different eras - Koke seems much more complete. He can play out wide, in the middle, as a playmaker.
"He has work rate, quality, flair and spectacular set pieces, and he is 24 years old.
"He has everything to be one of the best players in the world."
Suarez also spoke highly of Atletico as a whole and he feels they are the perfect example for a club like Valencia, who should be looking to upset "the big boys", Barcelona and Real Madrid.
"Stability on the bench of a club is a basic need," he added. "But you have to take short steps and train with intensity.
"That's what gives you the results. When you don't change everything and things are going well, everyone is valued, you have better contracts in the team, no one wants to go.
"Atletico is an example of how to compete with the big boys. You have to give everything and be humble every day.
"We [Valencia] have the foundation to get there as we are the among youngest squads in the league."