Marc Bartra has said that not only can he not replace Carles Puyol at Barcelona, no one will ever be able to.
Puyol this week announced he was leaving Camp Nou at the end of the season and has yet to decide his future, with reports claiming that he could retire rather than play on elsewhere.
Barca are expected to sign a replacement for Puyol but it was put to Bartra at a Press conference prior to the match against Real Valladolid that he could be the captain’s natural heir.
“There’ll be another like Puyol,” Bartra replied.
“I will do the best I can so that his absence isn’t noticed and that’s a huge challenge for me.
“I will be renewing my contract next week and I will try to ensure that, in the future, I can reach the same level as he has.
“Right from my first day with the first team squad, he was a reference figure for me.
“We play in the same position and as a defender, he has been one of the best in the world in his position during that time. I’ve learned so many things since he took me under his wing.
“He helps us in everything. He’s incredible. As a captain he is very tactically astute – you can tell that by the way he reads the game.
“I have really benefited from his advice. He’s an essential player for us both on and off the pitch. He has always understood how to transmit the values of Barcelona to the rest of the squad.”
Bartra added that he wanted to make the most of playing alongside Puyol for as long as he could.
“It’s very sad news for all of us. It’s bad for the team as we’re losing our leader, our captain and for me personally, I’m sad because he is someone who really helped me a lot and gave me a lot of valuable advice.
“We’ve got three months to get through before he goes and so I’ve still got time to learn things from him.
“It’s not for me to say what the next new signing should be like but being a centre-back at Barcelona is very difficult. Whoever comes in, we’ll try to help them.
“It’s normal for other players to want to join Barca.
“While Puyol has been playing less, I’ve had the opportunity to play more than usual. Whoever joins will also have to earn their place, like the rest of us have already done.”
The question of who replaces Puyol as Barca captain was also raised and Bartra feels there are a number of good candidates to take the armband.
“We lucky in that we have a lot of players who know the inner workings at Barca,” he said.
“Puyol won’t be around but Xavi, for instance, could take the reins.
“It’s going to be a bit strange at first but Xavi, Iniesta or Messi could take over.
“Or Busquets, who is a person who I greatly admire – he could be a good option.”
Bartra insisted that the climax of the season and the important fixtures therein have led to a wave of enthusiasm around the club.
The centre-back also said that at this point in the season what matters is winning games, whether you are first or second in the table.
“I am looking forward to this final part of the season with excitement and optimism,” Bartra revealed.
“We’ve got some great games coming up – some very important ones. I want to make it difficult for the Coach when he makes his team selection. I’m ready to make my contribution.
“Whether you are top of the table or in second, you have to win all of your games.
“The League has always been demanding and more so for a club like ours which is obliged to try and win everything.
“We are not used to be trailing the leaders and all we are concerned about is reclaiming top spot but we have to remain calm.”