Former Barcelona star Xavi has tipped holding midfielder Sergio Busquets to become one of the Catalan club's undisputed leaders.
Busquets, 27, has been in impressive form in recent weeks and Xavi is confident his former team-mate will continue to be a key figure for the Champions League and La Liga holders.
"I'm a huge fan of Busquets and he's a very close friend," Xavi, who left Barca for Al Sadd at the end of last season, was quoted as saying by Marca.
"He's in game-changing, match-winning form, setting up goals, getting his hands dirty and putting the opposition under pressure in their own half.
"He has to step up and lead this Barcelona team over the next few years, both out on the pitch and in the dressing room."
Barcelona have gone top of the table ahead of next week's Clasico against Real Madrid and Xavi has hailed the Camp Nou side's fine performances in the absence of the injured Lionel Messi.
"Based on their most recent league performances, Barcelona look the stronger of the two teams going into the game, but you never know what might happen during a Clasico," he said.
"Barcelona are on an outstanding run of form even with Messi out injured. The team are doing a really, really good job and there is plenty of competition for places. They look great to me.
"I hope Messi will be fit for the Clasico for entertainment's sake and that of the game itself. Football cannot afford to not have Messi out on the pitch."
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