Víctor Font: ‘Barça and Messi must know how to find a way to always walk together’

Víctor Font presentando su proyecto 'Sí Al Futut' / LALI ÁLVAREZ/ SÍ AL FUTUR
Víctor Font presenting his project ‘Sí Al Futut’ / LALI ÁLVAREZ/ SÍ AL FUTUR

Barça’s presidential candidate, Víctor Font, spoke of his project for the Catalan club since Sí Al Futur is the only official candidacy so far. He also spoke about his plan to retain Lionel Messi.

The elections to decide who will be the president of Barcelona will take place in the summer of 2021 until now only Víctor Font has been presented as a formal candidate through his campaign Sí Al Futur. Font is a Barça soci, and in the next elections, he aspires to be the head of the club. Meanwhile, he has been campaigning and sharing his project for the Catalan entity, which has been 7 years of work and preparation.

The Spanish newspaper Olé had an interview with Víctor Font and the highlight was talking about the continuity of Lionel Messi, which was doubted this July after the news about the suspension in the negotiations for his renewal. Víctor Font points out that to retain Messi it takes more than a good contract, the club must focus on a sporting project that convinces him. Víctor Font shared what he wants to implement and improve at Barça.

“You said it: apparent departure. We do not have direct information on the case, beyond what was offered by the SER news outlet. The club, for its part, has stated that they are not aware of the player’s decision to stop negotiations for the renewal of his contract and that ‘we are going to enjoy him longer.’ We will soon know what is true in all of this because, in January, Leo will be free to negotiate with any club and, therefore, an agreement between Barça and the player should have been closed before. Otherwise, we would be in a very serious situation,” Font declared.

“If this is the case, it is important to understand that the driving force behind Messi is to play the best football possible, win titles and make fans happy. Leo and his family have been happy living in Barcelona for many years and, honestly, I see him far from wanting to generate or feed controversy,” he added.

Font was also asked about whether he sees Messi with another shirt and other teams to sign him, but he made it clear that the match between Lionel and Barcelona must remain as long as possible.

“Not at all. Messi arrived at Barça twenty years ago, when he was thirteen, and neither I nor any Barcelona player can imagine Leo playing with another shirt that is not Barcelona’s Barça player (except, of course, the Argentine albiceleste). He has been a One Club Man, Barça and Messi must know how to find a way to always walk together. There will always be teams interested in Leo but the key is and always will be that he is happy playing here, offering him the best conditions to win everything.”

Another question was about the scandal known as BarçaGate, related to the I3 Ventures company hired by the club, in addition to the public message to Éric Abidal and whether that situation influences the decision of the Argentine to continue in the club.

“I think they are two different themes. The I3 Ventures scandal, despite splashing him, is an institutional issue from which Leo tries to live away to focus on his professional life, which is football. The conflict lived with Abidal did affect him directly and interpretations are not necessary to understand his opinion, he gave it immediately. It was clear in his Instagram post.”

On whether Lionel Messi is interested in Barcelona politics and if Víctor Font knows the best player in history personally.

“I don’t have the pleasure of meeting Leo Messi, yet. But we hope to be able to explain our project to him soon, which aims to ensure that Barça can continue competing at the highest level. Because I am sure that as soon as I can see it, he will like it and that will dispel any doubts Leo may have about the future of the club.”

Víctor Font commented on the contract he would offer Messi if he would sit down to negotiate a renewal with him.

“If you allow me, there is something much more important than the contract: the sporting project that we are building for Barça. I am sure that learning about the project may be more interesting to a club player like him than not the type of contract. And in this sense, we have spent years working to reconstruct the entire technical organization diagram of Barça and contacting the greatest Barcelona talent available. Barça’s project for the future must include those professionals who know the ‘juego de posición’ the best, the style that has brought Barça to the top of world football. I’m sure this is far more important to someone like Leo than the type of contract.”

The news reporting on the stoppage in negotiations between the club and the player pointed out that it was largely because the current board of directors held Lionel Messi as responsible for internal decisions. To which Font replied that:

“When you have grown as a person and as a player to become the best in history, it is normal for your opinions to count when making collective decisions. The opposite would not be normal. Another thing is that it is intended to make Leo Messi responsible for decisions made by others. Leo is the best player in the world and in history, everything around him should be up to him. It is possible that in recent times this has not always been the case and that this has provoked the public expressions of disapproval that Leo has expressed.”

Font responded to the project that must be presented to Messi.

“This is a fundamental question for us. We will be firmly committed to recovering the winning Cruyff heritage that Guardiola perfected. We are going to make ex-footballers familiar with the model and with the appropriate capacities to lead the sporting project. From the Board of Directors to the lower categories of formative football, passing through all key positions of responsibility in all professional teams. And that directors who do not come from the world of football do not interfere in the decisions that these professionals must make. Besides, we hope that the project of the future that we are promoting can count on Leo Messi also after he leaves the field of play.”

The plan within the project of Víctor Font to face the future of Barça without Leo Messi.

“Firstly, as I said before, the first objective we have is to be able to continue counting on Leo once he stops playing. Our greatest hope would be to have a team made up mainly of players trained in the lower categories of the club itself. This means betting on the style that Johan Cruyff left us and practising it from the first team of Benjamin to the first team. Only those players who make the difference and who can fit into the Barcelona model should be signed. These will be the investments that can make sense.”

They also asked his opinion about the current board led by Josep Bartomeu, to which Font replied:

“The results in football have been good thanks to the best generation in history. An ultra-competitive team that has never got tired of winning. And this has been the case despite many inconsistent and erratic decisions that have impeded winning more and that put the institution’s immediate future at risk.”

“Players who do not improve La Masía’s talent have gone on to sign, and very expensive strategic bets have been made that have not worked – especially after Neymar’s departure. Therefore, the winning team that Messi needs around him has not been built, nor has a consistent rejuvenation of the squad been planned to think about a future with guarantees. On the other hand, in the other sections of professional sports, we have continued to be generally competitive except in basketball where there has been no project.”

“Economically, one of Bartomeu’s assets is to have made Barcelona the club with the most incomes in the world. But also the one that spends the most and does not generate a surplus of resources to be able to face future challenges. For this reason, in recent years, he has been forced to carry out accounting operations on the last day of the season to balance the accounts. Last year the Cillessen-Neto barter and this Arthur-Pjanic exchange are good examples. If we add the unexpected arrival of the Covid-19, the club’s accounts are in worrying proportions. All this has been accompanied by a gradual distancing between the Club and its owners, the members, who are hardly taken into account, except every 6 years, when choosing the president,” he added.

Víctor Font also spoke about his cruyffism and the meaning that this has for him.

“When I define myself as a Taliban cruyffista, I try to distance myself from those who say they are cruyffistas but then do not apply their words to the facts. They use the name of Cruyff to try to please Barcelona fans but they do not apply almost any of their principles. In recent years, many of the decisions made in the sports project would not have been blessed by Cruyff.”

Font’s opinion regarding the current situation of the team with Quique Setién at the helm and the apparent friction between the captain, Leo Messi and the second coach, Eder Sarabia.

“I saw it, like everyone else, but I don’t have enough judgment to accurately interpret the situation.”

The coach that Víctor Font presents in his project is Xavi Hernández and from him, the football project will grow if he wins the elections.

“Safely. Xavi will indeed be Barça’s coach when he decides, whoever is president because Xavi is Barcelona’s patrimony and is his maximum illusion. But I am also sure that there will be no other project that has worked for so long to ensure that Xavi’s sports bet is on his mind can be carried out with maximum guarantees of success. Xavi fits perfectly into the player profile of the house, formed in the quarry, and perfect connoisseur and defender of the style that we defend. In the case of having the honour of governing, he will be the axis on which the club’s football project will pivot in the coming years.”

Is Xavi’s experience as a coach a risk?

“There is no risk-free bet, but we are convinced that Xavi has innate qualities to direct the Barça football project for the coming years. Of all the professionals we have had the pleasure of meeting in recent years while building the project, Xavi is the one who best meets all the requirements. Xavi is talented, his trade, he knows the club, he has leadership skills, he is very intelligent and he will feel supported by all the structures of the entity and by all Barcelona fans.”

Víctor Font spoke about Pep Guardiola’s long-awaited return to Barcelona.

“It shouldn’t be an impossible dream. Our project is born in part from a question: how is it possible that some of the world’s greatest football talents have left Barcelona and instead of making them work for us, we dedicate ourselves to exporting them? Sure, not all ex-players fit at once and not everyone can be the best in the same position. But it is about creating the conditions so that all the talent that Barça creates will last for many years at Barça, each one assuming the most suitable responsibilities.”

Is there a place for players who went through the club like Milito or Mascherano?

“I don’t know them personally, but I remember them as dedicated and committed footballers with Barça. And I also remember that Pep Guardiola always spoke highly of both of them. In any case, as we have been explaining, those responsible for the sports area will have to decide who should be counted on and to assume what role. I would be delighted to be able to count on people like them in the future project that we are promoting.”

On whether the signing of Lautaro Martínez is contemplated in the Font project.

“As I said before, if we win the elections, the sports decisions will be made by the athletes who will be in charge of the project, not the managers. So this is a question for them, not me. I can only tell you that Lautaro Martínez is a magnificent player, he surprised me a lot when he came to Camp Nou with Inter. And that Luis Suárez is one of the best strikers Barcelona has ever had, a historic goalscorer who has just surpassed the legendary Kubala in the club’s list of top scorers.”