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Cardoner: 'Catalonia had to endure a dictatorship, we wondered why Di Stefano was not playing for Barça after we signed him"

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Cardoner: 'Catalonia had to endure a dictatorship, we wondered why Di Stefano was not playing for Barça after we signed him"

The Barcelona vice president discussed the club's present and past with Argentine newspaper Clarín

Jordi Cardoner visited the Argentinian newspaper Clarín headquarters and talked about numerous Barcelona related matters. You can read it in Spanish here.

The Catalan club vice president took a stroll at Buenos Aires and El Clarín’s headquarters. Leo’s present and future are mandatory issues to discuss. He assures “footballers like Neymar come to us because they know they’ll get to play alongside Messi”.

“Lionel Messi is the best footballer in the world, and to us, the most truthful bearer of our institution's values. Namely effort, sacrifice, humility and the game itself. Leo handles his own greatness based on modesty. And he is here with a sense of belonging (to the team) just like many of his peers are”.

Is Messi’s opinion taken into consideration when selecting transfer targets for Barcelona?

As it happens in every organization, Barcelona has its procedures. First of all, any potential signing is sanctioned by the head coach’s staff, who evaluate such players and assess not only their sporting capabilities, but also their personal qualities and check on his playing conditions being suitable for the team’s style. Therefore, it’s not about considering Messi’s, or any other players', thoughts on who we should sign – it’s about the understanding that the newcomer must come to be supportive to them. And about how likely the team will be to welcome him upon arrival.

In a club like Barcelona, how can you possibly get ready for the day after the world’s best footballer leaves?

I can’t see that happening. Because there’s always going to be one player deemed the world’s best. And Barcelona is always supposed to have the world’s best playing for the club. So we will never quit having the world’s best with us.

In that case, how do you think will be the day after Messi’s retirement?

Messi will be, and actually is, the best player in the history of football, and we are already positive that, among the greatest players, he’ll be the only one to have started and finished his career at the same side. Messi is an Argentine, and might make a decision about his post-retirement life, but he’s well aware of the extent of appreciation Catalonia holds for him.

Are you not afraid that, given his outspoken sympathies for Newell’s, he might end up his career on the side he played for as a child?

That’s a freedom range everyone is entitled to. No one should be tied up to an obligation. Whenever he has expressed such way, that’s fair enough, but I’m sure he will stay at Barcelona until the last day he plays.

Will Barcelona be able to remain the same after Messi?

Messi-dependence is over. Barcelona has been able to leave that behind, which Napoli could never do regarding Diego Armando Maradona, for instance. When Maradona walked away, Napoli suffered a great deal. As a board of directors, we are compelled to keep our team unhurt whenever Messi leaves. Some time ago, rumor was about the end of a cycle, but Luis Enrique broke new ground to reinvent the team, and made Barça a more straightforward side towards attack. They said Neymar would never fit into Barcelona’s game, and he does. They said Luis Suárez would not make it because Barcelona relies on a false 9, and nevertheless, he does. A state of integration has been achieved.

You mentioned certain comfort zone Messi lies within in Catalonia, but there is a feeling that a part of Spain is in rage against Messi and Barcelona. Is that so?

There is a cultural issue about the fact that Barcelona is in Catalonia. That’s a matter of culture, irrespective of the club. Barça is a realm for integration, with a willingness to unite, and there might be voices trying to link our cultural sphere to a number of political stances.

Is it related to that “Visca Barça, Visca Catalunya” thing?

Just like Argentina, we endured a dictatorship, under General Franco. Back then, there was a favoured side winning European Cups, and that was Real Madrid. Making us suffer a lot. That was a complex situation for us, and we wondered why Di Stefano was not playing for us when he even had already put on our jersey. Back in the day when people were not allowed to call out “Visca Catalunya”, they’d shout “Visca Barça”, and that held a different meaning. Nowadays, anyone who wants to call out for independence is allowed to freely do so.

What are your feelings when you read some criticism to Messi here?

The way I see it, you must understand that he is the best player in the world, but he can’t be charged with the whole blame because football is a team sport. It makes me feel sometimes like Messi is expected to show up with a hero cape solving out every problem. But he also needs to share the responsibilities among his teammates. Sometimes criticism comes from far away out of misinformation.

Expectations might be for him not to wear a hero’s cape, but Maradona’s…

Not a good thing to compare. Back in Maradona’s days, football was a different thing, allowing a player like Maradona to ease a whole team’s issues. Today there’s a lot higher pressure, football has changed a great deal.

Is there any chance to get together Messi and Sergio Agüero?

I don’t interfere in sporting issues. That’s just not my business, and my opinion is but a supporter’s one.

Are you in search of a new Messi?

I’m convinced the new Messis, the new geniuses now 12 or 14 years old, are not to be sought after, they’ll come to us. Barcelona holds now such a position that players themselves, their managers or football people in general come up with interesting proposals to us.

There seems to be change in signing trends. Nowadays you sign Rakitic rather than going for a mega star jersey seller like Beckham…

The thing is we have a team here, not a conglomeration of super stars, which would come to be not compatible with our values. Egos within the dressing room are an issue to be controlled. There are players in supporting roles able to adapt themselves to several positions, like Rakitic or Sergi Roberto. Unlike Villa, who couldn’t get used to it.

As a fan, what do you find more enjoyable? A goal by a succession of passing, or a masterstroke by Messi? Collective art or individual art?

I don’t know about that, I’m happy with most Barcelona goals. We get goals in a number of ways: solo efforts, team plays. Not long ago they reinvented the indirect penalty kick. Such strokes of genius get known all around the world. Those are the ones that lift us to our actual status. No one is to take offense here. That one was not meant to mock anyone. That’s the way they play, and they devote themselves to entertaining. We have to get used to football in general being an increasingly beautiful thing.

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