A host of former Barça players were reunited on Friday night for Deco’s testimonial, and several of them made comments about the new-look team under Luis Enrique.
The main attraction of the evening, Deco, spoke about his former colleague, Leo Messi, who played the second half of the game at the Estadio Do Dragoa. “He’s Barça’s best player ever” said the former Portugal international. “When a team doesn’t win, it’s always the best players who get singled out for blame, but nobody should forget all that he’s done for the club. Nobody will be able to repeat what he has done … Barça are looking very strong and I love the signing of Luis Suárez. He’s a hard working striker with so much personality and who scores goals.” He also thanked the club “for helping with everything we asked of them” regarding the organisation of the testimonial match played between teams representing Porto and Barça and made up of Deco’s former team-mates at both clubs, including several members of the respective teams that won the 2004 and 2006 Champions League Finals.
The man who scored the winner for Barça in Paris 2006, Juliano Belletti, was among those who played last night. The Brazilian feels FCB has changed a lot since his days at the club, and is sure that Luis Enrique will make a huge difference as new manager. “Barça come with their style of play included” he said. “I’m sure Luis Enrique will stick to that system and try to improve it thanks to the players they’ve signed … I like the signings, especially the ones from South America. But most of all, it’s Luis Enrique that I like. I think he was the best signing of all”.
Left-back Sylvinho was another protagonist of the Deco testimonial, a player who arrived at Barça just as Luis Enrique was leaving, but they did train together a few times. “I reckon it’ll be a good season for Barça” he said. “Especially with Luis Enrique. He’s a very serious person, a very good coach, and he’s young and dynamic. He knows the club well and I’m convinced that he’ll do a good job.” The Brazilian also expects big things from the attacking trio of Messi, Neymar and Suárez, saying that “in our day, they said that Xavi and Iniesta couldn’t play together. Andrés was 18 years old and people questioned what he’d be able to do at his side. But they went on to win everything. Luis Enrique will find a place and role for everyone”.
Sylvinho is also confident that last season’s trophy-less season was an exception to the norm. “The titles will come back” he insisted. “I’m very happy that Luis Enrique has returned. When he was running the reserve team you could see that he arranged tough training sessions, with a lot of quality and lots of high expectations. He was the best man for the job.”