Joan Laporta has offered insight into his spell at Barcelona, discussing Ricky Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Samuel Eto’o, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola.
Laporta, who spent seven years in office as President at the Camp Nou, gave an in-depth interview to Onda Cero this week and provided a number of eye-catching statements.
First on the agenda, Laporta suggested that Milan counterpart Silvio Berlusconi once tried to persuade him to swap Ronaldinho with Ricky Kaka.
“Berlusconi intended to get Ronaldinho [with Kaka], but at that time it was not an option because Ronnie was our joy and our smile,” explained the former President.
“It was proposed to me by the President during a meal between directors. He was half joking and half serious, but he wanted to see if I’d bite.
“It is sad now for Kaka, as he arrived at Real Madrid with an aura, with the idea that he would be a reference point for Madrid, but he has not yet fully achieved that, despite being a great footballer.”
Laporta then revealed that a young Cristiano Ronaldo had been offered to Barcelona, shortly before his summer 2003 transfer to Manchester United.
“Mendes offered him to us, even cheaper than for what he went to Manchester for, after we had done some other transfers with him, but at that time we had no economic projection after signing Ronaldinho, Marquez and Quaresma.”
Laporta has been highly critical of successor Sandro Rosell, who he fell out with during Rosell’s brief stint under Laporta as Vice-President.
During this interview, Laporta insinuated that Pep Guardiola’s departure from the club due to exhaustion was the result of a managerial error from Rosell.
“If I had still been President then I would have tried to have Pep continue, I saw that he was made to take things on that lead him to exhaustion.
“There was a lot of pressure and the Coach should be outside of the club, it is the President who has to assume the pressure because the situation can be wearing.
“It is not for the Coach to come forward and stop all these hits [from the Press].
“Did Mourinho influence Pep’s decision to leave? I don’t think it was down to him. There were allegations that we had not acted decisively to appropriately tackle. It was left to the Coach to explain. Players and the Coach must be to one side.
“Bayern Munich are a wise choice for him, the best of all. I like the idea that someone as accomplished as Pep has gambled on a sporting project more than money.”
Laporta again insisted that whilst Jose Mourinho was pushed as an option, Guardiola was always first choice to take the Barcelona hotseat back in 2008.
“The public opinion wanted Mourinho, but for our technicians and for me the decision was clear and it was Pep, who was with Barca B and ready to make the jump.
“I knew [Mourinho’s agent Jorge] Mendes from previous deals with players. He called me to ask about Mourinho and I said we were trying Pep. Rijkaard was difficult to replace and we thought Guardiola was the right person.”
Laporta backed up the assertion that the club are in no position to convince Victor Valdes to re-sign his contract now.
“I would have wanted him to stay. I do not know if I would have gotten him to, though, because when Victor decides that is it.
“But as Andres said, the Camp Nou has to be very grateful to Victor for what he has proven on the field. You have to remember, thanks to him we have won two Champions League trophies. Without him we would not have won.”
The former President then revealed that Samuel Eto’o’s departure from the club in 2009 was necessary, despite all he had achieved with the club.
“There was no other option. I had already proposed with Rijkaard to end his tenure. He was a difficult man because he was temperamental.
“In the first year, Guardiola told me that he would work with him and he gave us great joy, but despite his great season, he then had to go.
“He had trouble understanding the ‘feeling’ and I tried to explain it. He knew the reasons and he knows he could have done more to win over the Coach, but he has a strong personality and that did not happen.”