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Barcelona director Deco talks Xavi, Felix, Cancelo, Lewandowski, Yamal, Raphinha, Ansu, Vitor Roque



Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images

FC Barcelona’s sporting director, Deco, has affirmed that the team has full trust in Xavi despite recent struggles, saying that there is absolutely no doubt about the manager’s continuity.

“Trust is 100%, 200%,” Deco told RAC1.

While this is one part of it, he went on to add that the next objective is to improve and play better. 

“Now, we want to improve. We want to play better, of course. We cannot hide it. We want a team that is more attractive,” he said. 

“Another thing is to know why we are not at our level, and that we do not have all the players that we should. Soon we will recover. We know where we have to improve but we cannot forget that we have good things,” he added.

On Xavi, Deco pressed that winning the league last season was a fantastic achievement for Barcelona mostly because no one expected the Blaugrana to challenge Real Madrid for the title.

Above all, after a series of departures of senior players, Barcelona needed time for the rebuild, hence winning the league made it more special.

“We won La Liga after people said that it would take years to win again after having lost the best player in history.

“Leo is not here and we thought it would be a drama to win again. A generation left, people like ‘Busi’, who I would have liked to have had another Busi or who would have lasted 20 more years, or people like Alba or Piqué, emblematic players.

“This whole process is difficult for a coach to manage. And Xavi has achieved it and we have renewed him,” he explained.

Barcelona’s stance on the Joaos

Deco confirmed Barcelona want Felix and Cancelo to continue. (Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images)

The sporting director also spoke on the likes of Joao Felix and Joao Cancelo, confirming that the team want the Portuguese duo to continue beyond the ongoing season.

“There is no doubt that we want to have them next season because they are valid for the squad,” said Deco.

At the same time, though, he admitted that it is quite early to talk about things that will be finalised towards the end of the season.

“We are still in November, it is early. But of course, we are already thinking about it. We see how the season is going. 

“We are happy with their performance How? We’ll see, these are discussions for later,” he commented.

Deco also admitted that the two are very important for the team, especially Cancelo, whose versatility has allowed Xavi to utilise him across different positions. However, he did add that his base position is and will be the full-back spot.

“Cancelo has already played, as we knew from the possibilities he can give, as a right-back, but he can play as a left-back, as a winger. 

“I have not seen anything strange in Cancelo’s lineups because it is something he can do, respecting that his base position is that of full-back. 

“As for Felix, he is playing in his position, he is a playmaker who goes inside, who makes combinations, but since he arrived he has had to play a lot,” he added.

Transfer plans regarding Ansu Fati and Vitor Roque

Ansu Fati was sent to Brighton and Hove Albion on loan this season and while there were evident struggles in the beginning, the young forward has now fit in seamlessly. 

Speaking about his future at Barcelona, Deco said that there is a possibility that he might return, but that perspective solely depends on how he performs for the rest of the season.

“Ansu can come back, of course. He’s very young and he’s happy now. He asked to go out on loan looking for minutes and decided on Brighton and I think he did well. 

“We’re following him because Bojan, who is doing a great job, is watching him. The future depends on him. He can return to Barça, there is no doubt,” he said.

On Vitor Roque, Deco explained that if the club manages to acquire him in January, he would be the only piece of business Barcelona would be doing in winter.

Barcelona are working on signing Vitor Roque in January. (Photo by Heuler Andrey/Getty Images)

“We are fighting, on the way to try to incorporate Vitor Roque in January, that is why we signed him and we want him as soon as possible. It is an option if we meet the League’s requirements,” he admitted.

In any way, he explained that if Barcelona have to wait until June for his acquisition, the club would not have any problem.

“It will not be a problem for the aspirations of the season, no. From the first moment there was talk of January or June because it was always a demand from Paranaense, who never wanted to sell their player before; so that has already been talked about and it is not new.

“We want to have it in January from the beginning, but the squad we have is enough to fight for the titles,” he said.

When asked about the prospect of signing other Brazilian talents such as Estevao Willian, often known as Messinho, Deco said it is normal to track such talents, but the story ends there at the moment.

“It is normal for quite a few players to come out and they are footballers that the club follows, but nothing more. Messinho is a young talent but in football, you have to be calm. 

“This is because there are other priorities for next season and, in addition, we have people for the future at La Masia, a lot of good people at Barça Atlètic and in the Youth League,” he explained.

On the transfers, he also seemed positive that Barça will be able to sign new players in the summer of 2024 according to the 1-1 rule. “I think so. La Liga rule has changed and the club is adapting to ‘fair play’,” he concluded.

Discussing the noise surrounding Robert Lewandowski snubbing Lamine Yamal’s handshake during the Alaves game, Deco said:

“On the pitch we can’t always say: sir, can you pass the ball to me, if you please? When you are in the field there is a lot of tension. I still remember the image of Lewandoski defending Lamine when he is fouled and all the Alaves players want to eat him”.

Recent reports suggested that Raphinha could be a subject of a transfer debate come summer due to his misfiring displays.

Given that Deco used to represent the Brazilian before becoming the director at Barça, he was asked how he would handle the matter with the 26-year-old winger.

“I will always try to advise Raphinha on what is best for him, but the club is above him. In any case, at the moment we are very happy with him,” he said.

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