Few players at Can Barca have come out of this season with an almost clean copybook, but Ronald Araujo has as good a claim as anyone.
The 21-year-old defender has asserted himself in the side this season, becoming a defensive leader and towering presence for the Blaugrana. After signing a contract to stay at the club for five years, Araujo is firmly in the good books with Cules.
In an interview with Mundo Deportivo, Araujo went back through the season and evaluated things. Asked how the team was mentally after a couple of tough weeks, Araujo had this to say.
“Now we are fine, even if the season hasn’t finished as we wished. We have to be humble as a team and recognise where we came from.”
Even though some have sneered at the impact that Xavi Hernandez has had on Barcelona since his arrival in the dugout, it does seem as if even the players are picking that out as the before and after moment of the season.
“We started the first half of the season very badly, we were in a bad place in terms of morale. But with the arrival of Xavi everything changed. The team grew, it feels strong and we are learning a lot.”
“Xavi comes to return us to the philosophy of Barca that was llost in recent years. That was very important, we also showed where we can get to. We played a great game against Real Madrid, in Naples, against Atletico… That’s where we can get to and more. It’s true that in the end we couldn’t win any titles, but we have to be humble and trust in the work that we are doing. I am sure that next season will be a great season.”
It felt as if Barcelona failed to convert its chances to do something special just when they got into a position to do so. Ferran Martinez asked Araujo what the team needed to do in order to take that next step.
“Believing in it. Believing in the team, in ourselves. Trusting in what we are working on and in what the manager tells us. We are going to do a good preseason, that always helps in terms of the group and learning.”
As Real Madrid can attest, self-belief is one of the most important traits in football.