Interviews Transfer news

Bartomeu opens up about Neymar, Espai Barça, Messi leaving, and the squad

Josep Bartomeu before his interview with Barça TV // FC BARCELONA

Club president, Josep Bartomeu, had a talk with the club’s official TV channel, Barça TV, where he talked about the Neymar situation, the Espai Barça project and a potential electronic voting system for the coming elections.

The summer transfer window for this year has been absolutely hectic, and among the most used name in the transfer market reports, Neymar topped that list, by far. Therefore, it wasn’t in the slightest surprising, when Josep Bartomeu addressed the Brazilian, among other topics, with his latest interview with FC Barcelona’s official TV channel, Barça TV.

“Neymar is an extra [to the plans], as he wasn’t one we had planned for. When Leonardo [PSG’s sporting director] opened up the doors for us to negotiate, we joined the negotiations. Signing Neymar was a decision made from the sporting department of the club,” Bartomeu told Barça TV, before continuing on the feelings inside the club regarding the Brazilian, and what happened at the negotiation table:

“In the club, there was the feeling that Neymar had [re]joined the club. Barça didn’t offer players [to Paris], those players were ones PSG wanted. But during the negotiations, PSG renewed their demands; we told them they were unfeasible, and we stopped the conversations,” he said.

Despite the lack of Neymar, who was seen as a bit of a bonus, Bartomeu is very happy with the signings made by the club this window.

“The sporting part of the planning was made some time ago, and we’ve executed the signings we had planned for. This squad is more competitive than the one of last year. It’s a small squad, but [it’s] very competitive,” the president said.

Messi’s clause exists, but doesn’t worry Bartomeu

A thing that culés from around the world have been panicking over, is the inclusion of a clause that allows Messi to opt out of FC Barcelona after any season until 2021. However, Bartomeu assures that he isn’t concerned, and that Messi should have his freedom to choose, like the captains before him had.

“Like the cases of Xavi, Iniesta or Puyol, Messi also should have the freedom of deciding his future, and [deciding] when he wants to stop playing football. We hope that he stays until 2021 and long after that. As the president, I’m very calm [about him staying].”

Recently, there have been rumors going around about Barcelona talking to Puyol about taking over Pep Segura’s position. Bartomeu confirms that there have been talks, and has alluded to Barça hoping for a ‘yes’ by the former Barça man.

“We’re talking with Puyol – that’s no secret. He has a lot that he can contribute to Barça with. He understands the footballing and the organizational aspect [of the club]. He’s an important figure. It’s not a state of emergency, but yes, it’s important that the general manager position [in the club] is occupied.”

The stadiums

It’s no secret that the club have two big plans when it comes to stadiums. The first plan is to have the Estadi Johan Cruyff take over the Miniestadi’s role, and act as a stadium for the B-team, the Juvenil A team, and the Femeni team.

The new stadium named after the late Dutch and Barça legend, was inaugurated by Cruyff’s son, Jordi Cruyff, on August 27, where several of the first team players, and Cruyff’s family were present.

Bartomeu has assured that despite the upcoming demolition of the Miniestadi, an act of commemoration will be held for the stadium that’s been serving the club since September of 1982.

“In the coming days, we’ll begin the demolition of the Miniestadi. Of course, we’ll hold an act of commemoration for the stadium on September 24.”

The club’s president made it clear that the Espai Barça project, for which the objective is to revonate the Camp Nou, will begin during 2020. The president has assured that the club is aware of the potential costs of the project and have potential revenue channels in mind to cover some of the costs involved.

“The Espai Barça [the Camp Nou renovation project] is a project of the club, not the board. The work on the Palau will begin during 2020,” he said, before addressing the total costs and revenue:

“The total costs of the Espai Barça project could reach 685 million euros. We will hold an extraordinary assembly to address the new financial planning [for the project]. We’re receiving the extra income that we saw in 2014, and we believe that we can get more [extra revenue] through new ways,” he said.

When talking about 2014, Bartomeu also highlights that the costs and demands have changed since then, hence the raise in costs.

“The total cost has changed as the costs have changed from what they were 5 years ago, and because we’ve increased the amount of construction wanted for the project by a bit. Additionally, we want to address the jobs in the Les Corts neighborhood, work that wasn’t planned for, back in 2014,” Bartomeu said.

The finances are planned for, voting system is being considered

Also, despite the debts panicking culés, and the revenue being unknown to some, Bartomeu has said that the debt is normal for a club of Barça’s size given its revenue, that the debt is under control, and went on to mention the budget and revenue for the coming 2019/20-season.

“For this season, we will present a budget of around 1.060 million euros in revenue. We have a healthy economy, and we’re a robust club. The fact that we have financial institutions approaching us to offer us resources is a testament to their trust in us, because we’re a solvent and solid club,” the president assures.

Many Barcelona fans have been devastated by the voting credentials of the past elections, and have suggested electronic votes. Bartomeu has said that the electronic votes have been considered, but aren’t deemed reliable as of yet. However, the club’s vision is to not retain a visit to the Camp Nou a necessity for those wanting to vote.

“For the coming elections, we’re working on the possibility of introducing different ways of voting in Catalunya and some places in Spain, without the need of everyone coming to the Camp Nou. It’s another option as long as electronic votes aren’t technically reliable,” he said.

The current club president, Josep Bartomeu, was voted in, in January of 2014, where he won with around 61% of the votes. In 2018, Agustí Benedito attempted to launch a vote of no confidence against the club president, but failed to get enough signatures to do so, and Bartomeu retained his position. His current term runs out in 2021, where Victor Font is expected to be among the candidates.