FC Barcelona president, Josep Bartomeu gave an interview to Barça TV+ regarding the club’s situation following the Lisbon debacle.
The 57-year-old president talked about various issues such as the changes needed at the club, rebuilding the squad, the new coach, and much more.
ON HOW HE HAS LIVED THESE DAYS AND WHAT HE HAS DONE
“We have done everything these days. Worried, busy, and thinking about all the actions we have to do to reverse the sporting situation that has caused so much damage to all of us.”
ABOUT ABIDAL LEAVING
“Yes, he has told us that he wanted to leave the office, it is his personal decision. We thanked him for the years of dedication and work. He has been a good collaborator, it is his decision to leave, and we have to accept that.”
ON ELECTIONS IN MARCH
“It is a decision that corresponds to the board and we have taken it out of responsibility. We have not wanted to resign at this time because in five weeks the League begins and we have to prepare the planning. The situation of the pandemic influences and you have to hold an Assembly and close budgets. Leaving now was irresponsible. Doing that as of March 15 will allow us to make a smooth institutional transition, as it should be, and that the new directors from March 15 can plan for the coming season. It has been a debate with the board and we all agree that it was because of responsibility. Resigning and folding would be the easiest thing to do, but it was irresponsible ”.
ON WHETHER BARÇA NEEDS NEW BLOOD
“These days we have talked a lot. We have a sports crisis, not an institutional or club crisis. We have had a very negative result in the Champions League. Yes, for weeks we said that new players were arriving, but with the Champions League, evolution is needed. The club is in a good institutional, social and economic situation but in a sporting crisis”.
ON DECISIONS TO BE MADE
“The virus affects our lives and it affects Barça. We have a plan prepared and we are seeing how we adapt to the expenses. We have the responsibility to face Barça and adapt it to the situation of the pandemic, which is why we want to move forward with responsibility. There are sporting decisions, obviously, because you have to plan for the next season that starts at the end of September. There are economic decisions that affect day to day. We have a plan. The fact that the board continues until March 15 will allow a very smooth and very institutional transition for the new sports board ”.
ABOUT THE DECISION TO NOT RESIGN
“Since 2010 we have accumulated 200 million euros in profits, and there has been good management made since then. But it is true that this season we have stopped entering the 200 million group. We have worked hard so that the deficit is not 200 but less. In the 2020-21 season, we must present a balanced budget to the assembly. We are not weighed down by a possible liability action, we are saddened that we have the knowledge to move the economic situation forward. As important as the sporting challenge is to adapt the club to the COVID-19 crisis, it is an important challenge. If there had been elections now, with a management board for a few months and a new board in the middle of the year, it would have created some governance problems.”
“These days it’s all over the media. If nothing goes wrong, Koeman will be the coach who we will announce later. These players will go ahead with a different project with a coach that we Catalans know well. Not only as a player but as a coach. We believe in him because we know how he is and how he thinks and how his teams play, but also because of his experience, for being in Johan Cruyff’s Dream Team, he knows Barça and the way of understanding football ”.
ABOUT KOEMAN ARRIVING NOW AND NOT IN JANUARY
“In December we spoke with different coaches to see who could come. At that time we denied it because it could not be explained, now I can tell. Koeman told us that he had a responsibility with the Netherlands and could not leave them without a coach, but he was the first coach we contacted. Now he has told us that the Eurocup is very far away, we are in a pandemic and we do not know what will happen to the European competitions. It has been a dream for him to coach this club for a long time”.
ON WHETHER THERE WILL BE A CONTINUATION CANDIDACY
“We have talked about it and at this moment nobody is thinking about elections and candidacies. We are very focused on executing the plan to stop the consequences of the pandemic. I have told the directors that the moment we call for elections in January, each director is free to do whatever they want and if they want to sign up for a candidacy they will be free, but right now we are not talking about that, we are rolling up our sleeves. sporting and economic situation”.
“I would like to not talk a lot about Arthur, but I repeat that it was wrong of him not to return from his mini-vacation. This is why he has an open case and has to finalize his departure from Barça.”
“Messi wants to finish his career at Barça, he has said it many times. I have spoken with Koeman and he has told me that Messi is the pillar of his project. Messi has a contract at Barça until 2021, he knows it and we all know it. I speak regularly with Messi and especially with his father and that opens them up. I told them that there is a project, that a new coach will arrive and that he is counting on him. Messi is still the best player in the world. he is number 1 and we have him. And each project that is done is done thinking that we have the best player in the world and in making his qualities grow.”
ABOUT ABIDAL’S VACANT POST
“At Barça, there is a technical secretariat, an office made up of several people which was led by Eric Abidal. From now on, it will be directed by Ramón Planes, who was Abidal’s number 2. I want to make it clear that there is not a single person. There are several people who run the office. Decisions from now on will be agreed with the new coach. They are decisions in which several people will participate”.
ABOUT THE WITHDRAWALS OF PLAYERS WITH CONTRACTS
“This planning that will be done from now on with the coach and the technical secretariat, if there are names, that there will be, they will be told. Some of them already know it because they have been spoken to in recent times. A conversation will be held with the players to explain their situation. The first thing to do is talk to the players. They are legendary players who have to leave with all the honors, but you have to talk to them”.
“Going for a player whose club is unwilling to sell him, is impossible. Last summer we tried. It is normal. Big clubs want great players”.
“Before restarting the league we spoke with Inter but we stopped the negotiations a few weeks ago because the competitions were returning. They have the Europa League that they are playing and we will wait for the coach to arrive and the technical secretariat to see how they plan the future”.
ON THE 400 MILLION SPENT ON DEMBELÉ, GRIEZMANN AND COUTINHO
“Any investment that is not going well obviously weighs down, but this happens in all areas. If there is an investment that has not gone well it is evident. In Dembélé’s case, he has been seriously injured. Coutinho had to be loaned out because he did not have the lace. I would not put Griezmann in this package. You have to help the player recover or give him a way out. As for whether there will be a salary reduction, no. We are talking about adaptation to the decrease in income of the club. It is a balance. We do not ask for a reduction in income, nor will we know the final squad that we will have for next season. Then we will know if a salary reduction is necessary. Now we are adjusting salaries according to the situation.”
ON IF THERE WILL BE A TRANSITION
“Barça is never in transition. Barça fights every year for all titles and it is the obligation of all of us. The players have to be excited about the arrival of a new coach capable of making the change we want. Get excited about the players who arrive and those who stay. And with those who will leave, we have to let them go with honor”.
ON THE VETERANS IF THEY DON’T WANT TO LEAVE
“The options are open and the solutions are all on the table. Some have already been discussed and others will be discussed when consensus is reached with the technical secretary and the coach. All options are open”.
ON TER STEGEN RENEWAL
“I am optimistic. Today they have operated on him and he is a professional. He is a great person. His renewal was stopped because he said it was not the time due to the pandemic, but Ter Stegen will continue for many years at Barça”.
“He has the option to stay. It will be a decision of the technical secretariat and the coach, and if they consider that he has to stay, he will stay ”.
ON THE NON-TRANSFERABLE
“Leo Messi and many other players. It would be a cliché to just say, Leo Messi. Messi is the best player in history but there are other non-transferable ones. There are many young players. Ter Stegen, Lenglet, De Jong, Semedo, Dembélé, Griezmann. These are the players who we count on a lot and who have come to spend many years at Barça”.
“We spoke at the beginning of the situation. I have to thank him for the effort and for having come to Barça in the middle of the season and I thank him for the courage to come, take the team in January and I have to say that the confinement has not gone very well. I want to thank him for the effort and the work for the team”.
ABOUT TRINCAO AND PEDRI
“They are two great players who were unknown to fans until we signed them and they are exciting players. They are young and we cannot ask them to be decisive from day one. We have offers for them, which are double what we have paid”.
ON TRANSFERS AND KOEMAN
“We have talked about signings and players who will have to leave. So far there are issues that we have talked about but until his signing is finalized it will not be true. Yes, new players will arrive but it will depend on the salary limit”.
ON HAVING WON ONLY FOUR CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WITH MESSI
“I agree. I miss the Champions League in which Inter, Chelsea, Roma, and Liverpool eliminated us. There are four Champions League trophies that we deserved to win because of how we played and we miss it. I look ahead and now it’s about remaking the sporting crisis so that a team can choose to win the Champions League. I miss those four qualifiers that were unfair”.
ABOUT THE TALK WITH JORGE MESSI
“I’ve spoken with him and with other agents. They’ve told me what we all know, and what we’ve all seen: there is a huge disappointment. The disappointment is justified, this duel has to take place, but since Sunday, we’ve been preparing for the upcoming season. Holidays help clear the mind and help starting off strong next season.”
ABOUT PLAYERS WHO GET ON GOOD WITH MESSI
“You have to ask him about this. The technical secretariat and the new coach will take drastic measures and affect certain players who must leave with all the honors. They are players who have given their best and have given Barça the best years. There are many titles, many successes and it is a decision that some have been made and others will be taken. Technical decisions are not consulted with the players. Opinion and listening is the most important thing, but the technical secretariat and the coach will make the decision by consensus ”.
ABOUT CAMP NOU AND ESPAI BARÇA
“The future of Barça is to remodel the Camp Nou and this cannot be stopped. It is not a project of this board, it is a club project. We have not been able to do it this summer because we could not hold the referendum, otherwise, we would already be working. There is funding from Goldman Sachs of 800 million, and advancing the elections to March 15 will allow us to speak with the incoming board to see how the project is doing because if we jointly agree, next summer there will be cranes at the Camp Nou. The finished and remodeled Camp Nou is the first stone to reverse the economic situation. We are the only great club that has not remodeled the stadium”.