Busquets talks Messi, Pedri, Xavi, Araujo, Gavi, Barcelona DNA, and retirement
As the international break winds down, Barcelona captain Sergio Busquets sat down for a long interview with RAC1 during which he discussed a various range of topics starting from the team’s form under Xavi Hernandez to his own retirement plans and the younger crop of players coming through at Barça.
Busquets, who has been playing some of his finest football since Xavi took over the reins, revealed that he is excited about the big project that the club are building.
“I think something big is being built. If the economy allows it, we can make some good signings to complement this well-planned squad because there are many young players who have a great level,” he said.
Praise for Messi and Pedri
The veteran midfielder then spoke about the departure of Lionel Messi, saying how it left everyone shocked. He also added that the Argentine would always be welcome back at Camp Nou while acknowledging that a return would be difficult at the moment.
“Messi’s departure was difficult, and it shocked us at first. Of course I would like Messi back, but he has a contract with another team. It’s also complicated because of the way he left us. Nobody else has given us what Messi did. I miss him and I am sure he misses me too,” Busquets exclaimed.
“Xavi said Messi’s doors are open to return, so imagine me as a teammate. I’ll give him the captain, he has my respect and admiration,” he further added.
Busquets was also full of praise for midfield prodigy Pedri, who has been in sensational form of late, saying:
“Pedri is the young player that has surprised me the most. He understands everything about the game. He is always well positioned and calm. He listens, works, and never complains.”
At the same time, the Spaniard also had a piece of advice for Pedri’s fellow youngsters Gavi and Ronald Araujo, who are locked in contract negotiations with the club. “Whoever leaves Barça regrets it after that,” he said.
Xavi and the Barça DNA
The 33-year-old then opened up on Xavi Hernandez and the impact and the changes that he had brought on since taking over as the manager of the team last November.
“Xavi was an important reason for the team and the fans to enjoy again, he came with his own ideas, gave us confidence and worked hard especially in the early days,” he said.
“Xavi has been working with players that, when he came, did not understand our philosophy. Now, with the signings and the injured players returning, everything became easier,” the midfielder added.
Comparing the current team to the one that enjoyed a great deal of success under Pep Guardiola, Busquets said:
“The current era of our football is similar to Guardiola’s era in the style of play, but the opponents have nothing to do with what they were back then. Football has changed a lot, and the competitors have changed.”
The Spanish national team captain also admitted that the club had lost the Barcelona DNA after the exit of Luis Enrique and had struggled for an identity under the previous managers, but Xavi’s return has brought the team on the right track.
“We didn’t do well with coaches who came here with different ideas. Xavi comes with the Barça style. He is the continuation of Pep and Luis Enrique. I can’t say if they are better, but the fact is that they were the ones that won the most titles,” he said.
“We haven’t done well in recent years, with a lot of different coaches. All of them have their different style. But Xavi means continuity of the Barça style.”
Form and criticism
As iterated earlier, Busquets is playing some of his best football recently, which he acknowledged during the interview, insisting that he was feeling very positive.
“I think I’m playing some of my best football. The team is doing a good job and everyone is noticing. It’s been so long since we’ve been a strong team. I enjoy myself on the pitch. When there is confidence and good results, everything will go well and everyone will enjoy.”
Pointing out the performance against Real Madrid in El Clasico, Busquets added that the international break came at the wrong time for Barcelona.
“We were much better in the Clasico, we scored goals and we could have scored more, but Real Madrid is a great team. The international break has halted our run a bit but if we continue to win, we will make Real uncomfortable. We will try until the end but it is not up to us.”
Talking about the season’s objectives he added: “It’s difficult to win titles. In the Europa League we’re in a good position like the rest, but La Liga is extremely complicated. We will try until the end.”
During the bad phase earlier in the season, fingers were pointed at Busquets and the other senior players like Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique. Opening up on the criticism that he and his fellow veterans received, the midfielder said:
“I understand the criticism for the veterans. That is how football works. We lost the important Champions League matches. Not only us, we were several players, but they focused on only three or four of us.”
“We are from Barcelona and we want to win and I’m sorry if we didn’t win, but sometimes we couldn’t,” he added.
Future and retirement plans
Busquets touched upon his own style of play, acknowledging that he was not the fastest player and was bound to have problems if the team was not playing compactly and there were a lot of spaces left open.
The 33-year-old also added that there are not many players who can perform in his role, but handpicked Nico Gonzalez as a potential successor for him once he decides to step away.
“In the Barça style, my position is somewhat complicated to execute. There are no players with that profile now. But with our squad, I think Nico could be a better fit than Frenkie. But I think Xavi could make them understand the position either way,” he said.
When asked for his opinion on Franck Kessie, who is set to arrive on a free transfer, the Barcelona captain replied: “Kessie has to fit the manager’s plans. I’m happy to add players that will make us better and that want to come. Anyone that adds to us, giving another profile, much better.”
When quizzed if he plans to retire upon his contract expiry, Busquets said: “When my contract is over, I will decide what’s the best for me. If I’m good, I would want to stay. If not, I would accept that my time has come.”
“I think I can still help the team. I have one more year left in my contract, and I will see what the coach and the club want then. I would never become a problem for Barça,” he stressed again.
However, he did say that if he left Barcelona, he would not play for any other team in Europe. “I don’t see myself playing for another European team that is not Barça,” he said.
Busquets admitted that once he steps down from playing, he would like to become a manager and will soon start working on getting his coaching badges.
“I want to be a manager when I retire. I’m going to get the coaching badges soon. And I’ll try my best. I had a lot of good managers in my career,” he added.