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Rosell: The doors at Barcelona will always be open to Guardiola

by Tom Conn | Posted on Saturday, December 14th, 2013

Barcelona president, Sandro Rosell discussed the team’s performance this season, Leo Messi and his chances of winning the Ballon d’Or and potential signings this season.

Sandro Rosell

In a recent interview with Qatari website Doha Stadium Plus, Rosell began by discussing his own career and position with the club before running the gauntlet on a number of topics and rumours surrounding the club.

“It’s particularly satisfying to see that now we are reaping the rewards of 30 years’ work at La Masia. We had to be very passionate and patient, but it was worth it because the results can be seen in the form of Xavi, Puyol, Iniesta, Messi, Valdés, Piqué, Busquets… That’s the beautiful story of Barcelona. Someone started off the good work and we are reaping the rewards.

“I started off as a ball boy. It was the era of Johan Cruyff, one of my role models. I was 10 years of age and as a ball boy I was very nervous. When I told my classmates they were so excited. Chocolates and a slice of cake was normally what I was paid, but I would have done it for free.”

The 49-year-old gushed over the youth system that has produced some of the top players in Europe and continues to churn out a surplus of elite talent.

“We are very proud of it. If you look at this season it’s something historic: there are 17 homegrown players from a group of 25. That’s something that makes us very happy and proud; investing in our own players and their development. That’s exactly what our members wanted.”

Rosell went on to discuss the three managerial changes over the past three seasons, starting with why he feels Pep Guardiola left, to Tito Vilanova and current manager, Tata Martino.

“You have to ask [Cuardiola] why he left Barcelona. He was, by some distance, the best trainer the club has ever seen. For me it is going to be difficult bettering what he did for the club. The doors at Barcelona will always be open to him.”

“[Vilanova] was part of the technical staff. The fact he was named coach was something normal and logical. It was a surprise for everyone else but I would do the same again.

“Everything is going well with [Martino]. Everyone has the same goal and that is winning. What I asked him to do wasn’t easy and it wasn’t the ideal situation to hire anyone in any organisation, but he’s a brave person and knows a lot about the game. He has vindicated our decision.”

The Catalan boss went on to reflect on last season’s Champions League thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich and how that affected their preparations for this season and the decision to shut Messi down until January.

“You can’t win every year. The aim for everyone is to win. Bayern scored three goals that shouldn’t have stood… We also played without our best player, Messi. It wasn’t easy for the players because Tito had returned from New York after undergoing treatment. What happened with Tito affected everyone. That said, we made history by reaching 100 points in the league.

“We go into every tournament with only one aim: to win. So far this season we have won the Spanish Super Cup. We’re competing in three tournaments and we’ll go out to win them all.

“We are still only halfway through the season and there are three teams fighting hard. There are many other teams, although it is true that only two or three have a chance of winning the league.

“In my opinion, a good scenario would be to reduce the number of teams in the national leagues to 16 and the number of teams from each country in the Champions League. That would help clubs play the Champions League games at the weekend. I believe the future is increasing the competitiveness of the national leagues, and for that to happen you have to reduce the number of league teams. That’s my dream, my idea, but it’s a very complicated goal.”

The topic then turned to the contract renewal of Andres Iniesta and the rumours of 2013 Ballon d’Or finalist Leo Messi demanding a contract renewal, which he hasn’t.

“Messi’s at the heart of the group, the best player of all time and, naturally, the best player at our club.

“As far as I know they’ll be here next season. The problem is what is reported in a lot of newspapers. The most important thing is what the players and the club think.

“If people vote for performances last season then, without doubt, Messi was the best. He’s won the last four awards but when people see the same face again and again they want a change. It’s human. But I still believe it should go to Messi again.”

Rosell refused to talk about the rivalry with Real Madrid and who they sign, before discussing the prospects of signing players in January.

“I talk about my team, my trainer and my players. I never talk about another team because that is disrespectful. Our rivalry is historic and the Clásicos are a great event for everybody.

“I don’t agree that we have a weak defence. We have an offensive style of play, which makes it much more difficult to defend. If we look at our defenders I would say they are the best, or one of the best, in that position in the world. I wouldn’t change any of them. I don’t think we’re going to sign new players in January. If the technical team asked me to then I would consider it.”

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