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19.05.2010 11:03

Txiki: "Villa has a Barca profile”

Sandra Sarmiento

The Technical Secretary has a high opinion of the Spanish international striker but has no plans to offload two of the current strikers: “Ibra’s not for sale…Bojan is definitely staying”.

Now that the curtain has come down on Barca’s season, the focus of attention has turned to the backroom staff and their preparations for 2010-2011. Txiki Begiristain talks us through some of the issues occupying his mind in an exclusive interview with Barca TV and www.fcbarcelona.cat

¿Have you made your plans for next season yet?

2010-05-18_ENTREVISTA_TXIKI_BEGIRISTAIN_002.jpg"Yes, yes. With Pep. It’s really important. He’s definitely staying next season and he’s involved in all the planning. It’ll depend on financial aspects but we’re confident and we’ll keep at it. All decisions are taken and supported by Pep”.

Does the squad need many changes

"Not many, but it’s our job to keep looking for improvements. In some areas we’re not performing as well as last year and so they have to be improved”.

Does David Villa have a Barca profile?

"Yes, like Leo combining the position of centre forward or cutting in from the right wing. He‘s one of those players who make good diagonal runs, who use space well and give the team depth.. David Villa has this profile”.

Cesc says that if he leaves Arsenal he wants to come to Barca. That’s a first step.

"It’s good news. But what really counts here is Arsenal and their decision. Remember that he’s a really important player for them. And we have to respect that. Sometimes, players don’t get what they want because they are bound by contracts. The fact that he says that he wants to come to Barca is a sign that we’re doing a good job here. It’s great news and I think that Cesc has to come to Barca some time or the other. I don’t know when but I get the impression that he’s a Barca type of player and would have a great time here. Some time or the other he has to come. I hope it’s as soon as possible. But we have to respect Arsenal’s wishes and his contract”.

Will any of the reserves make the move up to the first team squad?

"Not directly. The youngsters we develop here have to play. What we want is for the player to combine training with the first team but playing for Barca Atletic. Jonathan and Thiago are two candidates for this role”.

Let’s talk about some of the protagonists of this season. Has Messi reached his ceiling?

2009-08-22_MESSI_02.jpg"It’s difficult to ask any more of him. His stats are impressive. It would be ideal next season if Messi didn’t score as many goals that the others made up for it with their contributions. This year, in the end, Ibra scored a lot of goals and so did Pedro. And Bojan also got a lot of goals towards the end. But if we believe that Messi has to score 47 goals for Barca to be champions then we’re going badly. The main thing is that the contribution from the rest is more effective and that way we’ll take some of the pressure off Leo. It wouldn’t be fair to ask more of him. He’s had an incredible season. He’ll win it all again”.

Piqué has also had a splendid year. Comparing him to Franz Beckenbauer isn’t such an exaggeration, is it?

"And more so after an excellent season the year before. You’re never sure if you’ll be able to maintain the standard. But he has and he’s consolidated his place in the centre of the back line and we’re really happy. Also about his decision to wait for Barca and for the Club’s decision to sign him”.

Has Marquez become a victim of the competition for places in the centre of the defence?

“You have to remember something about Marquez. Last year he had an injury that kept him out of the finals but he had an amazing season. When Rafa Marquez had a great season we won everything. And at the same time, Piqué joined us, Puyol was in great form and Milito made his comeback. So at the end it wasn’t easy to keep a place in the team. But as always he behaved fantastically. But the thing is we’re talking about a Barca that wants to win the lot so it’s not easy to play. Nobody’s guaranteed a place”.

Why hasn’t Chigrinski been a success in his first season?

"For the same reasons. Because it’s very difficult. 'Puyi' is the captain and is first choice in the Spanish national team. Gerard has had two excellent seasons and doing better than that is difficult. We have to have a full squad with a lot of players. What it doesn’t mean is that whoever doesn’t play is a bad player. That’s always a risk. People tend to label it as a mistake, as a player who isn’t any use. But that’s not so. Who’s got a better pairing than ‘Puyi’ and Piqué? Who’s better than a Marquez who had such a great season? Who’s better than a fully fit Milito? It’s very difficult to outdo all of that. That doesn’t mean you’re no good. Chigrinski is 22; he’s got time to grow. And there’s something he’s got in his favour: his attitude is extraordinary, his behaviour in the changing room is fantastic, he’s much liked by his team-mates. We’ll see if he’s able to grow and compete with these players”.

Did you expect Pedro to take off like that?

2010-03-17_PARTIDO_48.JPG"He’s really taken off. What I did see very clearly is that since last year he has made a big contribution every time he played. His performances have been brilliant in one particular way: he’s scored in every important match. Not only in every competition but also the decisive goals. In fact we’re talking about last season, about the 26 goals scored by Henry, one of the best players in the history of the English Premier League. He had a great season and was a key player in winning the treble. And now Pedro has scored 23 goals. It’s been amazing”.

Now that we’re speaking about Henry, is his future away from the Camp Nou?

"To some extent it’s a decision that a few players will have to take, probably including Thierry. We’re delighted with his behaviour. He’s a great player. As we were saying about Marquez, we have to remember the treble. We have to be aware of the role played by every single player in the squad and that’s where Henry has to decide. He has to ask himself, What do I want to be. Am I happy in this role? That’s the role he has to play. It’s more up to him if he wants to stay here or leave”.

Ibra has scored 21 goals this season. Has he fulfilled the initial expectations?

"We can’t just look at the last month. We have to asses what he’s done since the beginning. He had a great run in the middle of the season. Then he had a few difficulties and injury problems. As always it’s the manager who has to decide who’s best and he finished the season not playing very much. But it’s his first season and we have to be optimistic. Ibra isn’t for sale. He brings a lot to the team. We dreamed of having him and we want him to stay. But as always he has to be happy. He has to be comfortable in the squad and he also has to have his say”.

Will Bojan definitely continue?

"Definitely. He’s had his difficulties. Messi is scoring goals, Pedro is getting in there and scoring 23 goals, Ibra makes runs from deep. Bojan has his difficulties but he’s only 19. He’s patient and we are even more so. We’re very patient. I’m pleased he’s been patient because he could be the Barca nº 9 very soon”.

And Touré?

FCB_-_Espanyol_x9x.JPG"An extraordinary and important player. The question is how he sees things. The role he has to accept. We’re counting on him for next season but the thing is the players have to accept their position. Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Keita are all playing fantastically well. In the end you have to face up to the competition and you may not play as much as you would imagine. The player has to be the first to admit that. If they do that’s great for us. If they don’t accept it and want to discuss it, we have an obligation. We’ll never keep a player here who doesn’t want to be here”.

Txiki: “Villa has a Barca profile”

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Part two tomorrow
Txiki will look back at the 2009-10 season and discuss his own role in the Club since he took over as Technical Secretary in 2003.

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