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Deco talks Xavi, Busquets, Mbappe, De Jong, Araujo, Yamal, Aleix Garcia, Marquez, Guardiola, Mourinho

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Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images

Barcelona sporting director Deco recently sat down with Esport3 for an exclusive interview, where he talked about various topics plaguing the club right now.

Deco seemed particularly keen on speaking about Barcelona’s form and the impact of Xavi Hernandez’s sudden decision to quit the club at the end of the season.

“Has the media been unfair to Xavi? I think what was done was not valued too much. From winning LaLiga, the euphoria turned into too much demand in many moments and too severe criticism in some moments,” Deco said.

The Barcelona sporting director went on to highlight the achievements at Barcelona this season, adding, “The team has clearly shown signs of playing spectacular games, and sometimes we have not been able to.”

Pointing out Barcelona’s misfortunes, Deco said, “There is an analysis behind it: injuries, we have not been able to maintain a midfield at the same time, Busi’s departure is not just a football issue. All these things mean that the team has not had brilliant moments in many games.”

“But I think we have taken a step forward on many levels, and Xavi’s confidence is because of that, because we believe in what he is doing,” he added.

Deco also highlighted Barcelona’s achievements this season, including qualification to the Champions League knockout rounds. He also praised Xavi in the process.

Deco is working ’round the clock for a busy summer ahead (Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images)

“The most important thing about noise is what you believe. I believe and we believe in Xavi’s work. We have had difficult moments during the season. If you see, we have almost never had a starting XI for two months in a row; injuries to important players at important moments,” he said.

“We are achieving an objective that was not achieved last season, which is to go through the Champions League group stage and be in the round of 16. We have taken steps, but I understand that sometimes frustration in some games affects us,” he added.

Barcelona are slated to face Napoli in the Round of 16, later this month, in what could be a must-win encounter for the Catalans, as they look to remain in contention for the UCL.

Deco went on to talk about Barcelona’s transfer market strategies for the summer, especially with many experts expecting a complete squad overhaul.

Amid uncertainty over the future of Frenkie de Jong and Ronald Araujo, Deco was notably asked whether fans can expect big-money sales this summer.

“Selling important players? We would not like that to happen. I cannot answer you. Let’s see,” he answered.

When asked if selling Araujo and De Jong to bring in Kylian Mbappe would make the team worse he replied: “I think so.”

Deco, though, did deny that selling either de Jong or Araujo to bring in someone like Kylian Mbappe would only hurt the team.

The Barcelona sporting director also answered questions on Barcelona’s pursuit of a Sergio Busquets’ replacement.

Deco pointed out two candidates, stating, “The one who comes a little closer to Busquets is Rodri, Kimmich, Caicedo, but they are not easy players to bring in. Rodri is the closest but City would not sell him. Kimmich is another great player, who is at Bayern. It will not be easy to bring him either.”

Talking about Aleix Garcia, Deco added, “Xavi has also said that he likes him publicly. The loss of Gavi has been difficult. The team will try to minimize it now with Christensen in midfield. Aleix Garcia is a good player, who can be quite useful. We’ll see.”

Moving on to Barcelona’s coaching vacancies, Deco outright ruled out a couple of options in Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola.

“Pep Guardiola is a great coach, there is no discussion. He coached the best Barça in history, there is no doubt about this. And he has also done his job at Barça and continued to win and is perhaps the best coach in the world today,” he said.

Talking about Mourinho, the Brazilian added, “Mourinho is my friend but I haven’t spoken to him in a long time.”

Deco also added that Rafa Marquez is only being considered as a last-report option, as far as the Barcelona coaching position is concerned. “Rafa Marquez is an emergency solution,” he said.

When asked about the person making all the decisions in regards to the coaching position, Deco said, “Who will choose the next Barça coach? We haven’t started talking. We are still assimilating what happened with Xavi. It will be consensual. The president and I spoke.”

Deco also provided an update on Lamine Yamal and his contract situation, claiming: “We will extend Lamine Yamal’s contract as soon as he turns 18. We have already made an effort with him last summer, Lamine has three more years on his contract and when he turns 18, we will get the new deal done.”

On the summer departures of Ousmane Dembele and Ansu Fati, he said: “Dembele left because of the release clause and Fati went on loan because he sought more minutes. These two operations allowed us to sign Joao Felix.”

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