Josep Maria Bartomeu insists his Barcelona board “aren’t doing as bad as Joan Laporta’s”, while Lionel Messi’s new contract “will certainly come.”
Speaking at an assembly for Barca delegate members on Saturday, Bartomeu also assured La Masia was the club’s ‘future’ and that a new name for Camp Nou would be democratically chosen “during the first half of next year.”
“Braida and Rexach? They add value to Barca with the experience they have. Their work is very useful for all of us,” began the President.
“We do many things based on their judgments, which are very important. A club member says that we’re a club that don’t know how to sell.
“Let me make it clear that you’re right. We don’t sell starters. We’ve had offers for Iniesta, Mascherano, Pique, Xavi in his day etc, but Barca didn’t want to sell them and they didn’t want to leave.
“Las Palmas behind closed doors? If we didn’t play, we would’ve given six points to Madrid, Tebas, the People’s Party [Spanish government] and everyone else would’ve been happy.
“Barca are more than a club and there’s enough room for everyone here, but we did well to play behind closed doors.
“Everything must be settled with dialogue. That’s the way forward. I didn’t make everyone happy.
“I had no complicity with anyone not to play the game, although I didn’t want it to be played. The most difficult thing was to play the game, make no mistake.
“Photo of Messi’s new contract? We all have to be calm. It’ll certainly come, sooner or later, but that photo will be taken.
“Laporta? We’re not doing as bad as his board. Barca are going well or very well. I’m optimistic.
“Mistakes? We felt we needed to correct certain things and for that, we’ve taken steps to improve.
“We only won the Copa del Rey and Supercopa last season. They’re two trophies but, considering where we came from, we can’t be satisfied, even though Luis Enrique ended his spell with nine trophies out of a possible 13.
“We’ve always liked Valverde, he corresponds with Barca’s profile and he’s creating a lot of enthusiasm.
“He believes in the squad and has earned the affection of everyone. We’re pleased with our new additions. Semedo, Paulinho, Deulofeu and Dembele will give the team a competitive edge.
“And since we know we haven’t done anything right, we appointed Pep Segura to improve our work on a global scale.
“We’ve also brought in Bakero and Amor. Bakero will help our youth players towards the senior ranks, while Amor will bring through our kids.
“We have to count on the Masia model and keep doing so. It’s the future of Barca, not just for the purposes of maintaining our style, but as a response to inflation [in the transfer market].
“We can never compete on equal footing with clubs that represent countries are bankrolled by investment funds, capable of putting in any amounts they wish. Neymar is a clear example of that.
“We’re counting on our own production line and working with La Liga and UEFA to limit the madness in the market.
“During the first half of next year, we’ll hold an Extraordinary General Assembly to propose [to our members] the best option for naming Camp Nou.
“We’ve celebrated 25 years of Wembley, we’ve brainstormed with the Cruyff family to perpetuate his memory and we’ve already started work on the new Mini Estadi at our Ciutat Esportiva [training complex], which will bear his name. We want to open it in late 2018 or early 2019.
“Espai Barca has already become a reality, with the laying of that first stone. A big step has been taken with the residents of Les Corts and the City Council for the transformation of the urban plan, which gives rise to Espai Barca.
“It’s a big step, which will allow us to have the best stadium in the world. We’ve also stayed transparent to you, which is a key asset for maintaining independence.
“We’ve become the second most valuable club in the world. Signing our new agreements with Rakuten and Nike has allowed us to stabilise our business strategy.
“We’ve opened an office in New York and consolidated our one in Hong Kong, which allows Barca to be open 24 hours a day.
“The Barca Foundation already has one million beneficiaries, plus we’ve ratified agreements with the UNHCR and UN.”