Barcelona captain Marc-Andre ter Stegen has quashed talks of manager Xavi Hernandez betraying the club’s DNA, claiming that all such notions are ‘complete nonsense’.
The 31-year-old German international gave an interview to GOAL and SPOX (h/t Mundo Deportivo) during the ongoing international break and touched upon several topics related to Barça and his career.
In Xavi’s first full season as Barcelona manager, he led the club to the La Liga title and the Spanish Super Cup.
But there were fingers pointed at him that the triumph was not built on the Barça’s famed DNA and that the team had become more defensive under him.
Quashing those critics, Ter Stegen said: “That is complete nonsense. Every philosophy must evolve. When Xavi was playing, the quality of the Barça team was significantly higher compared to the competitors.
“Since then everything has become more balanced, especially physically. That’s why now we have to find different solutions than we did then. Especially at the beginning, he tried to give us some stability, and that was very necessary.”
The veteran superstar also opened up on his relationship with Xavi, having first played with him and now having to play as his ward, saying:
“When he left FC Barcelona in 2015, we kept in touch. We have a special connection, a very open relationship. If he expresses sporting criticism, I am very open to it. This is important for our relationship. I can separate private and professional matters.”
On Barça’s finances, his contract and future
It is not an open secret that Barcelona are not in the healthiest of situation financially and have had to take some drastic measures in recent seasons.
Ter Stegen admitted that it is not ideal but insisted that the club had made some important decisions to take the team forward in recent times, as he said:
“Of course we as players notice it, but we hardly talk about it. The club is doing everything it can to improve our team despite the difficult situation.
“In recent years, a lot of good decisions have been made that have moved the club forward both financially and sportingly. But some of them were very, very painful. Especially when it came to layoffs.”
Ter Stegen recently signed a new contract with Barcelona until 2028, with a reduced salary so as to help the club with the Financial Fair Play situation. When asked to comment on it, he said:
“I don’t want to go into details. We found a good solution that is good for both parties. I am very grateful to the club for having given me absolute confidence from the beginning. In this sense, I also want to give something back.”
Expanding on his future, Ter Stegen added: “I imagine myself living in Barcelona for the rest of my life. In Barcelona, everything fits me in sporting and personal terms.
“I made the decision with my family. We feel very comfortable in the city, the people respect us. If I fulfil my contract, as I hope, we will be here for 14 years. And the plan is not for this to be my last contract, although, in the end, it’s health that decides.”
On Barcelona youngsters and Lionel Messi
It is no secret that Barcelona tried to re-sign Lionel Messi this past summer, but the deal could not go through.
Ter Stegen lamented over the Argentine’s failed return, stating that it would have been a big advantage for Barça if the World Cup winner had come back.
“It would certainly have been a great advantage for us to have Messi back. Maybe he will come back in another role at some point. Barcelona is his club and will always be a big part of his life,” he said.
Ter Stegen also commented on the club’s latest rising star, Lamine Yamal, who is drawing comparisons with Messi for the manner in which he has broken out this season.
“His carefree attitude is good for us. I hope he will always have it. He will have to work on the physical side, but he is only 16 years old. Off the pitch, Lamine is a quiet guy. We should give him time to develop in peace. He has a great future ahead of him,” he said.
The 31-year-old also had a few words to say about compatriot Noah Darvich, who joined Barcelona this past summer. On the teenage wonderkid, Ter Stegen said:
“He has already trained several times with the first team, so I spoke briefly with him. Like Lamine, I hope Noah will be given the time he needs.”