Andres Iniesta admits “I still haven’t signed a new contract” with Barcelona and that “sometimes I didn’t see things like Luis Enrique did.”
Iniesta has only a year left on his Barca deal and frequently found himself out of the Catalans’ starting XI last season, in Lucho’s final campaign at the helm, and the midfielder bore all in an extensive interview with El Pais on Sunday.
“Barcelona attacks? It’s a very difficult moment that unfortunately affects us all,” he began.
“You feel all sorts of feelings and sentiments, but you must draw strength from them to go forward.
“At the same time, you realise the solidarity of the people and the importance of those that protect you and what they do for the lives of people.
“Guardian of Barca’s style? It’s a compliment because we’re pieces of the jigsaw or players that have grown up with this.
“We’ve had the opportunity to express it to the maximum in the first team for a long time, and it’s given us a lot of success
“Busi [Busquets], Geri [Pique] and Messi are also part of that growth and it’s something that we must be careful about not losing.
“What I think about this season? The same as all the others, with enthusiasm and ambition to win again, plus to retain that respect we’ve had for a long time.
“Real Madrid? They’re a super team, where there are also some of the best players in the world, but I insist that our challenge is to win back what we lost last season.
“Supercopa defeat? It’s painful because it was the first trophy that we could’ve won, but they were very clinical.
“All defeats, more so to Madrid, cast doubts, and these ones added to the situation that we’d been living through for the last few weeks. Still, it has to be a challenge for us to do things right again.
“Conversation with Valverde? It wasn’t a meeting for something specific. I spoke with him like I do with all the Coaches that come here and also to find out the importance of my role in the team. And my role will continue to be another player, an important player.
“Do I need affection? We all like to be appreciated, valued and respected, and I’ve always felt the affection and respect of everyone here, I have no doubt.
“But I’m also clear that at this club, you can never lose respect for the people that have given their lives for these colours.
“It mustn’t be lost and sometimes there can be the feeling that it has. Was there really a possibility of leaving Barca? As a matter of fact, I still haven’t signed a new contract…
“I’ve felt many things that I hadn’t before, but I think they’re normal. It’s a scenario that three years ago, I certainly could never have imagined… Let’s just say that now I think about the future, when I didn’t before.
“Relationship with Luis Enrique? I don’t know what’s being said in the Press, but the boss managed me the way he did because he thought it was best for the team and I, regardless of whether I talked to him or not.
“But I think that these three years, barring some difficulties from last season, have been very good.
“I had a lot of respect for the boss, although sometimes I didn’t see things like he did.
“Harder to understand technical decisions when you’ve already won everything? It depends on who you are. I’ve always thought that the Coach is not going to punish you, and I talked to him many times about how I felt.
“I had a very good relationship with Luis Enrique and I think everything worked relatively well. Raising my voice or protesting? I’m not like that, nor will I throw a tantrum.
“I prefer to talk and provide a constructive vision for us to develop, but I’m very competitive. To survive at this club for so many years, the only secret is to stay competitive.
“It’s what I’ve done my entire life, to always win and keep winning. That gene of competitiveness can be expressed in different ways.
“Acceptance of Valverde? Those of us who have been here for a very long time understand football in a very particular way and all the Coaches we’ve had understood it too.
“That’s why we look for a certain profile of Coach, beyond the style of play and players that are here.
“However, once they’re here, the Coach is asked to provide his own character and ideas, and Valverde’s teams are known to be very recognisable, so hopefully it’ll be the same here.”