Luis Figo has reflected once more on his 2000 transfer from Barcelona to Real Madrid, comparisons with Cristiano Ronaldo and on who will win the Clasico.
This weekend sees Barca host Madrid in the first League meeting of the season between the two rivals and one man to have controversially crossed the divide in recent years has cast his eye on proceedings.
“I think that in the Clasico it is not always the better team that is assured of victory,” considered Figo in an interview released today with Grada360.
“Anything can happen because concentration level are at a higher level. Normally those who are not doing as well will respond in that sense because they cannot afford to go wrong. So in this case, Madrid. We’ll see.
“Barca will dominate because they are playing at home and for the way that they play. And Madrid I hope will find that balance that will allow them to move from defence to attack well, and so that they can win.”
The former Portugal international drew the ire of Barcelona fans 13 years ago for completing a then world record move to Madrid.
Reflecting on the transfer and his reception at the Camp Nou in subsequent Clasicos, the 40-year-old was asked if today’s best players in the world could ever likely leave in similar circumstances.
“If I see it as possible it is because of the market, it is how it is. If a person is not happy and another club wants their services, they have a clause and it can be paid…and they are free. At this time, no-one can determine what might happen.
“At that moment [when at Barca], I was not satisfied with how I was valued, I had the opportunity and did not think twice. I did not always feel valued for what I had given to the club. For so much time I gave everything that I could and I was not valued and in the end my desire [to leave] became a reality.
“It is so in any profession – if your boss does not appreciate you and if you have another opportunity, certainly you will consider it. And that was so.
“The first Clasico after the move back in Barcelona? I do not think much about the past and what I experienced, the most important thing for me was at the end of the year we were champions.
“That in the end was another game in which I tried to do things well. Certainly, as I have said many times, never has an athlete in the world had an atmosphere like that with so many people against them. At the same time, the pressure always suited me because I always kept awake and focused.
“Which Clasicos do I remember most? The ones in which I won and scored goals. Those are the ones that stay with me, they were big games. Against Madrid I had some very good games. Against Barca I also got a goal.”
Figo was asked of comparisons between himself and Cristiano Ronaldo, and who between his 28-year-old compatriot and Lionel Messi will prove hardest to stop this weekend.
“They are two different players. For profoundness, probably Cristiano. In less space with the ball under control, probably Messi.
“Both are extremely difficult to stop because we are talking about the best.
“Comparisons between myself and Ronaldo? Comparisons are always obious, there is always someone who loses out. The fans of Madrid see Ronaldo as their jewel, and his performance is spectacular.
“I know him well and I think that his professionalism is the best out there because he is always there and always wants to win.
“But comparisons are bad. No-one likes to be compared because something negative always comes out of it,” laughed Figo.