Andoni Zubizarreta / PHOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB

Andoni Zubizarreta, FC Barcelona football director, joined Tito Vilanova for the first press conference of the 2013/14 season after the first team had completed their first training session of the preseason at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper. The director first announced the extension of Sergio Busquets contract through 2018, he then gave an overview of the team, talked about the players who have left the Club this season and declared that he hopes for a more “normal season” than last year.

After Thiago’s sale to Bayern Munich, Zubizarreta said, “we’re counting on Sergi Roberto, who we have a lot of confidence in to cover the position in the midfield.” He then went on to talk about the deal which allowed the older Alcántara to move to Germany: “We spoke with him at the end of the season and a couple of days ago he communicated his intention to continue his career outside of Barça. Given the situation, we looked for the best solution for everyone involved.”

Looking to sign a centre back

Zubizarreta confirmed that the Club is looking to sign a centre back, although he didn’t reveal any details on ongoing negotiations. “Thiago Silva is a PSG player,” he said, and when asked about Roma’s Marquinhos, he said, “his representative does not have an offer, but he’s an interesting player.” The director went on to confirm that Barça are not looking to sign a centre forward after the recent departure of David Villa: “We have good attacking players, we brought in Neymar and he’ll contribute a lot to the team.”

“The best solution for all involved parties”  

“There are players who won’t have playing time at Barça, and we’re looking for a solution that will satisfy all involved parties,” explained Zubizarreta when asked about players who will possibly not be with the team this season. “Jonathan dos Santos is a player who has a lot of football, he’s interesting, and we’re looking for the best solution,” he said when asked about the midfielder.

Neymar’s arrival to FC Barcelona

Neymar “is one of the most desired players in the world,” said Zubizarreta when it came time to analyse Barça’s performance in the ongoing summer transfer window. “Everyone believed that a deal for Neymar would cost at least 90 million euros, and we did it with 57 million, it’s an exceptional operation.”

Barça B players make the leap

Just as in past seasons, many of last year’s reserve players are looking to break into the first team. On Rafinha and Deulofeu, both of whom were loaned out to Celta and Everton, respectively, the director said: “We want to see if they perform at the same level in first division football, we have high expectations.”

External noise

“What we have to do is talk about football, we have to row in the same direction and look to improve ourselves,” said Zubizarreta when asked about the recent extra-athletic issues surrounding the Club in the past couple of days. “At the end of the season we evaluated the work we had done and we worked out some discrepancies. This has helped us to reinforce our process and our work,” the director explained.