Ferran Soriano has explained in an interview how Barcelona did everything possible to help Lionel Messi progress as a youngster.
The Manchester City chief executive is eyeing the world’s top football talent as he seeks to bring players to the Etihad Stadium in a bid to wrest the Premier League title back from Manchester United and, whilst accepting Messi is untouchable, described how the Argentine was allowed to grow at Barcelona.
Between 2003 and 2008 Soriano was financial Vice-President at Barca before taking on his role at City and gave La Nacion his own personal take on Messi’s development.
“First of all Messi is an extraordinary talent, practically unmatched. He could have been allowed to develop anywhere but was planted in fertile soil [at Barcelona], entering a system that looked after him with care and dedication,” Soriano asserted.
“When he was coming through the system Barca were very concerned in helping him with the basics, his physique for example, and setting challenges to reward his immense talent, such as playing against older boys to get the best out of him.
“Then when he became a professional they improved his contract several times without him asking as a reward for his performances on the pitch, but also so they could relax and feel he would always appreciate it.”
Asked if Messi’s individual talent would have flourished outside of Barca’s famed La Masia academy, Soriano gave an interesting analogy.
“Maybe it could have but he was better inside the system. It’s like putting a plant anywhere in a forest or a well-kept garden. The system creates better individuals to the extent that some perform much worse if they leave it.
“All markets are competitive and it isn’t possible to win without persons who have no talent. If you asked me the formula for a winning team I’d reply that I don’t know, but an approximation would be an equation that a winning team equals balance and a high commitment to talent.
“However, in football I don’t think it’s possible to win consistently if a team does not have a good atmosphere and team spirit, almost like a family.
“That’s something you need to work on. It’s not magic and doesn’t come free,” he concluded.