Former Barcelona president talks Messi, Dembele, Coutinho, Griezmann, Fati | OneFootball

Former Barcelona president talks Messi, Dembele, Coutinho, Griezmann, Fati

Logo: Barca Universal

Barca Universal

Josep Maria Bartomeu spoke a year after his resignation. He spoke in front of the General Assembly where he tried to play down the current board’s claims that the poor financial situation was a result of poor management by his team (h/t Mundo Deportivo).

The former President was firm on his stance that his board had nothing to do with the current economic situation of the Catalan giants. He blamed the pandemic for the reduction in revenue before pointing the finger at the UEFA Salary limit.

“Our serious rigorous management was ruined by the pandemic, that drastically decreased our revenue. We also started to suffer because of the salary limit imposed by UEFA.

“Our management has been serious and responsible. I don’t say it. La Liga, UEFA, FFP, and the auditors do.”

The Spaniard went on to say that during his tenure, the club went on to double their revenue and touch the billion mark in earnings.

“During these years, we doubled the revenue. We were earning almost 1B a year. Obviously, this allowed us to spend more money in the various professional teams that won multiple titles.”

The former president also spoke on a wide range of decisions taken during his presidency and their consequences in the current time.

On Messi’s departure: “It was a mistake to let Messi leave. It would not have happened with me. After Messi’s renewal, some other players came to us saying ‘me too, me too!”

On fearing facing criminal charges: “No. First, they looked at the audit, then the due diligence. They never found anything. So no, let them do whatever they want.”

On Reverter’s claims of his board paying 30% fee as commission: “I don’t remember ever doing that. Most were between 5-10%. If they talk so much, why don’t they show everybody. Who was the player? I’m thinking of the big deals: Dembele, Coutinho, Mascherano, De Jong, Ter Stegen, Suárez. I don’t remember ever paying up to 30% in comissions.”

On Malcolm’s agent receiving 30% commission: “Well, in that case Minguella intervened. It’s normal in the world of football when agents are involved. He was Malcom’s agent.”

On his board ‘improvising’ plans: “We did not improvise anything. We developed a strategic plan from 2015 to 2021. A few months ago, Forbes magazine said that Barça is the highest valued club in the world. That is not achieved through improvisation.”

On rejecting an offer for Ansu Fati: “In 2020, we received a 150M offer for Ansu Fati from an English club. Accepting that would have balanced the accounts. But no, we rejected it because the priority was the sporting project.”

On rejecting an offer for Dembele: “An English club offered more than what we paid for Dembélé, but we refused.”

On the CVC deal: “I would have signed the CVC deal. I don’t know the exact terms, but they are a great way to get short term income for the club.”

On the progressively improving player contracts: “Some of the players have contracts that improved every year because our revenue also increased proportionally. La Liga’s salary limit was getting higher every season, so it allowed us for more room.”

On exit bonuses for La Masia players: “With us, the La Masia players have exit bonuses. Whenever they decide to leave, they get a large bonus. This happened with Xavi, Iniesta, and should have happened with Leo.”

On the pandemic: “Nobody imagined the pandemic. We always thought Barça would keep on growing.”

On the loan for Greizmann coming the previous night: “Not the night before. Maybe 3-4 days or something. Griezmann was a strategic signing. We all agreed that he could bring a lot to the team. If we paid the release clause, that means we had the money, right?”

On the Neto-Cillessen and Arthur-Pjanic deals: “The Neto-Cilessen and Arthur-Pjanic operations were sportingly motivated. That does not mean they had their economic benefits too.”

On the ethics during his presidency: “During mine and Rosell’s presidency, no board member ever took money from the club. We never did anything illegal.”

On telematic Socis: “I have my doubts. It’s nonsensical that the majority of the socis don’t have an assigned seat. The priority, above all, should be to watch the team.”

On Neymar’s departure: “We never thought someone could pay Neymar’s release clause.”

On journalists being paid to praise the board: “I heard about that too. I mean, some journalists work for the club, and do things with the media department. But no, I didn’t pay anyone to say good things about us. I would never do that.”

On Coutinho’s struggles at Barcelona: “I don’t know why Coutinho failed at Barça. When Iniesta told us he was leaving, we signed him knowing he was the best player in the Premier League.”

On Dembele: “Ousmane Dembélé is a magnificent player. All of our technical staff agreed that we had to sign him. He has been really unlucky with injuries, but I hope he has some sort of regularity from now on. He will show his talent.”

On the club’s global status: “In 2010, we received that [status] was at the top of football level. Now, it is still a leading club, but in other aspects. For example, economically and socially.”

On the legacy of his board: “We left behind a great legacy. Sportingly and institutionally. The economic situation is not that bad.”

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