Leo Messi and Andrés Iniesta / PHOTO: REVISTA BARÇA.

Posing with their individual awards as 2012’s best players, Leo Messi and Andrés Iniesta spoke about the similarities between their early years, the problems of leaving their families as youngsters and the importance of the sporting model at the Club, which they have both been brought up with.

Messi is clear that Barça’s much admired model is something that has been a long time in the making: “the Barça philosophy isn’t about just one coach or another, it’s based on an idea, a line that is laid down and all coaches follow. That has always been the way in which the Club has worked with the academy”. What’s more important though, a defined style or players of the calibre of Messi or Iniesta ? Andres is clear: “the Barça way of playing – which we’ve worked on for such a long time –helps create success. The most important thing is to have an idea, but you have to have the right players to put it into practice – the two have to go hand in hand”.

Is it a model that can be copied?

With Barça having enjoyed so much success in recent years, many clubs are looking to try and imitate the team’s style, but is it a model that can be copied? For Iniesta: “in the end, you have to know what you are doing and who you are playing with. That gives us an advantage over the rest. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to play , nor that they can’t be successful in winning titles, but everyone has to choose their own way to play”. On that issue, Leo Messi reckons: “it’s not just the first team who play that way here – it goes right through the Club. You could try and put a team together with our characteristics, but we have the advantage that all the new players coming through also play that way. The youngster who comes to train with us from the Youth team or Barça B, won’t see any change on the way we play. Barça pick players who can play in this way and so one things leads to another”.

Andrés Iniesta added: “fortunately, the Barça way of playing will outlive us. If that wasn’t so, then the Barça style would have disappeared at other moments when the team were not so successful. Maybe we’d let in three then and now we’ll score three, but we have always kept the same philosophy about the game – playing the ball out from the back…. one era with one set of players and another now with different players”.

Mutual respect

Both players also spoke about each other, with Iniesta explaining: “Leo is nothing like the way he was when he first joined the first team squad. The most important thing, his skill, the essence of him as a player has always been there for all to see, but he’s just got better with every season, Of course he’s still just a kid compared to me!” Messi also showed his admiration for his colleague, claiming: “everything he does he does well. He’s won everything and I am very lucky to be able to work with him. I love what he does, both in training and on the pitch – it’s great to see him play”.