London - Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas paid his Paris Saint-Germain rival Marco Verratti the ultimate compliment on Tuesday by comparing the young Italy international to Barcelona great Xavi.
The two players go head-to-head at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday when the Champions League last 16 tie between their sides will reach a conclusion following a 1-1 draw in the first leg.
The pair recently filmed a television advertisement together and, having closely followed Verratti's development, Fabregas feels the 22-year-old is worthy of comparison with his former Barcelona and Spain team-mate Xavi.
"I think Marco Verratti is an exceptional player, an exceptional talent," Fabregas told a press conference at Stamford Bridge.
"I don't want this to be anything big, but he reminds me a little bit of Xavi. He's that type of player.
"He plays in a 4-3-3, comes deep to get the ball, turns fast, is small, has great control of the ball and great ability technically.
"He's one of those players who has a big career.
"He's still young. He needs to learn, and he's at the right club playing week in, week out, with great players. I'm sure in the next few years he will become a top player."