The Azulgrana keeper highlights the quality of the Barça B players and he considers that, as long as everyone "does their part and gives their best," the reserve side will accomplish its goals this season
Valdès the role model
Which keepers are your role models?
Here at Barça I look up to Víctor Valdés. His mental fortitude, his ability to play the ball with his feet, the confidence he has in himself and the confidence he gives his teammates... these are important to me. When I was at Elche I looked up to Willy Caballero, he helped me deal with professional players and I learned how to be a better person and player from him.
Do you think a keeper from La Masia can substitute Víctor Valdés if he were ever to leave or when he retires?
I’ve only been here a short time but the keepers that have been here in the Alevín or Infantil levels, when they make it to the Juvenil or Barça B they go out and do things automatically. With the managers that we have, the facilities and the teammates, as well as the daily work, we hope that one day we will have our chance and make it to the first team. We have confidence because we know that the first-team managers, whenever they can, call up reserve-side players.
You have an ex-Barça keeper, Carles Busquets, at La Masia. Have you had the chance to talk with him?
Yes, he gives you a lot of confidence. He’s very calm and he exuded that sense of calmness when he played. They’ve told me that he was very good with his feet and his personal style in goal was fairly peculiar, so I’m sure that I’ll learn a lot from him.
Miguel Bañuz is one of the U18 players that was promoted to the Barça B team this year. The keeper is very aware that his job is to continue improving and in order to accomplish his goal he’s dedicated himself to give his utmost each day. Bañuz’ motivation isn’t diminished by being the team’s third keeper, in fact, the contrary is true. The Elche-born player believes that he’ll be able to learn from his teammates Oier and Masip. He also said that the man he looks up to the most is the first-team keeper Víctor Valdés.
New manager, new team... How’s the preseason going for you with Barça B?
I had a magnificent welcome to the team. We didn’t have any problems because I had already trained with them last season and the team’s training tour in TorreMirona was more of the same. I couldn’t imagine getting along better with my new teammates and they are very willing to lend a helping hand. I’m taking it one step at a time in the run-up to getting ready for the start of the season.
Has the preseason been hard?
The players that were promoted from the Juvenil team (U18) haven’t had a lot of time to rest, we only had two weeks. If you're careful and if you do exercises on your own, you can come into the preseason in shape. However, it’s hard to ignore the toll that double training sessions exact on you and the heat... but we’re undertaking the task in the best way possible.
Do you have the feeling that this will be an important season for you?
The first thing on my mind is to learn from the other two Barça B keepers, Masip and Oier. They are supportive and therefore, they’ll be there when I need them. I’m bringing the same things they do to the team: hard work, humility, and if they want to learn something from me they are welcome to do it... but the truth is that there aren’t any problems because they are both great people. All three of us will have opportunities.
Has your view of them changed since you were promoted to the Barça B team?
Yes, it has changed because we are together on a daily basis and before I wasn’t with the team. But, like I said, they aren’t a problem. We have a great relationship.
Do you believe that the three of you have different characteristics?
Yes, we all have our individual pros and cons. Masip is great with his feet, he’s fast and very agile. Oier is strong, powerful and, despite his stature, he’s very fast with his hands. I will learn from them and I’m sure that we’ll compliment each other perfectly.
You’ve talked about Masip and Oier’s qualities. What are yours?
I don’t like to talk about my qualities. I'd rather have the manger and the fans judge for themselves. I consider myself to be a person and a footballer that has character, ambition and humility. I’m sure that I’ll be able to bring my work and humility to the team.
Have you matured this past season with the Juvenil team?
Yes. I came from Elche and we had a difficult season. But when I arrived to Barça, they treated me really well. I was shown a lot of confidence from my first day forward, and playing at the Ciutat Esportiva was a very important qualitative jump. During the year, with Óscar García and Rubén Martínez, I learned a lot. Playing for Barça is very different to playing for another team. You’re asked to give a bit more of motivation that you’re not expected to give in other teams. Playing in the Champions Cup, the Copa del Rey and important games in the Liga was very demanding. However, I left for home content after the season. The disappointment in the Liga in the last game of the season was a good lesson, you can’t win everything. It was a lesson in humility for everyone.
What do think you’re missing to be a better keeper?
I’m 19 years old and I have an infinite amount of things yet to learn. I’m here to learn from my teammates and from my mistakes. I don’t consider myself to be a virtuoso of the game.
Are you mentally prepared to collaborate with the team and support the players when you aren’t called upon to play?
Of course. If I don’t play, I’ll accept it in the best possible way and I’ll train harder so that Eusebio Sacristán gains confidence in me. When Jodri Masip or Oier play, I’ll support them, give them confidence and there won’t be any problems. I hope to have my opportunity but I know that I’m in the Barça B team to learn. I’ll try, little by little, to earn my place in the team.
Is this your big challenge?
Yes, but from the first day I arrived, not just from now. Ever since I came here last year I wanted to win the confidence of all the people at the Club and I’m very content with my work. I’ll keep on working daily and I’ll make small improvements along the way until I get my chance to be promoted to the first team.
What should Barça B aim for this season?
We’ll take it a game at a time. First we have to secure our spot in the division. I don’t think we’ll have any problems with that goal seeing that we’re a young group with a lot of quality, and with the additions of Lombán, and with Ilie, Oier, Rodri... they are players that have experience in the division and I believe that we won’t have any problems achieving our goals if each one of us works hard and gives everything. Collectively, it will be a great season and if it’s good for the group, it will also be good on the individual level.
What does it mean for the team to have to face Real Madrid Castilla?
It’s an extra motivation. It’s just another game but facing the Real Madrid reserve side always gives you more motivation. But it’s just three points.