Director of football Andoni Zubizarreta has hit back at critics of the age of boss Luis Enrique’s Barcelona team.
Last weekend’s 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid has seen the average age of the Barca team – 28.7 years for El Clasico – become an object of debate over the past few days.
However, Zubizarreta told El Pais he is not worried that seven of the starters at the Santiago Bernabeu were over 30.
“It’s a temporary issue because if we had played the likes of Ter Stegen, Bartra, Sergi Roberto and Rafinha then the average age would have come down noticeably.
“We have players in different age groups and we are not just leaving the team to grow old, although admittedly the players we signed in the summer were experienced ones, with the exceptions of Ter Stegen and Douglas.
“But we are building a team for a season, not just one match,” claimed the former goalkeeper.
Questioned over whether Ernesto Valverde had been the original choice to replace Tata Martino on the Barca bench, Zubizarreta denied that was the case.
“Luis Enrique was always first choice. Football is evolving and perhaps we needed to make some modifications in certain aspects.
“That is what we have done with Luis because we have raised the intensity and maintained the pressure higher up the pitch.”
Regarding the criticism of his work in some quarters this season, he says it is something he is used to.
“Being a goalkeeper is a university where you accept the criticism and when it doesn’t work out with a player it’s our fault.
“However, when it works it’s because of his own merits and people say it’s easy for us because of the money he cost and the ability of the Coach.
“We are all human and I have complete faith in this team, the squad and the Coach,” he concluded.