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The transfer window is now closed, so there could be no better time to assess the status quo, and FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has done just that in two extensive interviews that appeared on the covers of today’s editions of Catalonia’s leading sports dailies, Sport and Mundo Deportivo.
Here’s a collection of key quotes from the articles:
LET'S BE POSITIVE
“We have to stick together if we want to win everything. We have great players and this is a better team than last season. People are excited about what they see. Our players are what we have got and they have huge potential. I sense a lot of pessimism and we need to end it”.
“People are saying that Neymar’s departure has weakened us, but I see it as an opportunity to strengthen the team. We won’t have the full trident, but we will have better balance on the field”.
“We’re starting a new project with Valverde, and we have all the trust in the world in him. He’s a coach who believes in the Barça model and players from La Masia. The Marlon loan deal, for example, was something he asked for, because he wants him to get game time and come back in the future. It was the same with Samper. We don’t improvise in our jobs, we work to a schedule”.
INS AND OUTS
“We wanted two players – a right back and a midfielder. We got Semedo, a young, promising player, and Paulinho, who brings strength. We also recovered Deulofeu, a home grown lad. His return shows how much faith we have in our youth system. The unexpected signing was Dembélé, because we didn’t plan for Neymar leaving, but we are happy with the replacement”.
“We would have liked to add Coutinho but we said no to the price that Liverpool were asking. Signing him would have rounded off the team, but we still think it’s good enough and competitive enough to contend for everything”.
“The first self-criticism was our belief in what the Neymars told us. We were wrong. When we found out, we reacted and made enquiries about Dembélé. We managed to sign him, but for a high price. Neymar’s exit was a setback for our strategy”.
“The second self-criticism has been our plan for outgoing players. We didn’t get what we wanted and didn’t meet our expectations. We had planned for certain players to leave who ended up staying”.
“The market is inflating with money that isn’t precisely coming from football. Given the situation, we plan to expand our youth programme and increase revenue, and also work with UEFA, FIFA and ECA in order for financial fair play to be applied strictly, and for limits to be placed on transfer fees”.
MESSI AND INIESTA
“Everything is agreed and signed with Leo Messi. We just need the formal signature, because we’ve had some scheduling difficulties. But the contract is valid until June 30 and has been audited in last season’s accounts”.
“We have an agreement in principle for Iniesta to renew and we hope to formalise things in the next few weeks. We would like him to retire here and for him to do that when he thinks the time is right. The idea is to give him an indefinite contract that he can automatically renew every year if he likes. Andrés is a one-club man like Messi, who has set an example with his commitment and loyalty. They are role models for the kids at La Masia and for future generations”.
ALL UNDER CONTROL
“He has every right to present a vote of no confidence, but I don’t think the extraordinary conditions exist to present one. I can’t see any sporting argument, nor can I see one in financial or equity terms. There is a pessimistic mood among our supporters that we need to try to put an end to. What we’re trying to do is manage the club in a sustainable and feasible manner”.
“This year we’ll be presenting a budget of more than 800 million euros, with major investments to make us the world’s leading club in terms of revenue and profits”.
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