Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane has found an unlikely ally as the pressure continues to grow following a poor La Liga title defence, with Barcelona legend Xavi describing it as a 'pain' to see the Frenchman suffer.
Zidane won two Champions Leagues in his first 18 months as Real coach after taking over from Rafa Benitez in January 2016, as well as bringing a first Spanish title to the Bernabeu since 2012.
But Real are well off the pace this season and are as many as 19 points behind fierce rivals Barcelona with only 18 games left to play. They also trail neighbours Atletico Madrid, as well as Valencia, while even facing competition from Villarreal in the battle for a top four place.
In quotes published by Marca, Xavi said, "Of course I admire [Zidane] because he was an extraordinary footballer. It was wonderful to watch him play."
The 38-year-old, who continues to play with Al Sadd in Qatar, added, "My pain has been to suffer him at Real Madrid. It's a real shame.
"Everyone has admired Zidane and continues to admire him. Not just as a player; he is a gentleman, a sensible, noble person, known by the entire world of football. He's an example to follow."
Los Blancos have linked with an approach for Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino in recent weeks. The Argentine masterminded a 3-1 Tottenham over Real in the Champions League at Wembley earlier this season, while the teams also drew 1-1 at the Bernabeu.