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Barcelona President not worried by Premier League attraction

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Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu insists that he will “fight” to keep his players at the club despite the temptation to move to the Premier League.

Despite La Liga boasting some of the world’s best players, the Premier League’s £5.1 billion television deal gives the English league a huge incentive to attract some of those players.

But despite the new deal, Bartomeu insists that Barcelona can keep hold of their star names.

“We are going to fight against the Premier League. We want to have the best players in our league,” Bartomeu told BBC Sport.

“It’s true that the Premier League right now is the best league competition in the world, not only in a sporting way but in terms of income too.”

But over the past few years in particular, we have seen players leaving England to join La Liga. Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo have made the switch to Real Madrid, whilst Luis Suarez left Liverpool for the European Champions, Barcelona.

That said, some players have made the reverse switch. Diego Costa left Spain to join Chelsea, whilst Radamel Falcao and Eden Hazard left France to join Manchester United and Chelsea respectively.


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But Bartomeu, who has been Barcelona President for 18 months, insists the Premier League will continue to grow, attracting some of the world’s best talent.

“The new Premier League television rights contract is something that the rest of the leagues have to follow.

“But no other club in the world has as big an income as Barcelona.”

Bartomeu was elected last week to remain as the Barcelona President for a further six years. Responsibilities as President of one of the world’s biggest clubs leave him with a powerful voice within the game.

And despite the fact that Barcelona won an unprecedented second Treble last season, Bartomeu insists that his side can improve further.

“Last year was probably the best season in our history because we won everything. This year we have tried to work with the same team but also bring in some players who can give us a bit more competition for places, like Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal.

“In our opinion, our team will be more competitive. This year we have six possible trophies – La Liga, Copa del Rey, Champions League, Spanish Super Cup, European Super Cup, World Club Cup – that we want to win. It’s not going to be easy but we are going to try.”


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Uruguay forward Luis Suarez made the switch from the Premier League in 2014, and he netted 25 goals in 43 games for the Treble winners.

“It was not a gamble. We knew the player Suarez was. We had been following his progress since his time at Ajax. The first time we had the chance to bring him to Barcelona we tried and we were successful,” Bartomeu said.

“Suarez brought a surplus – something extra – that helped us to be the best soccer team last season.”

But given the Premier League’s TV deal and the English league attracting big name players, including Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, does it make it harder for the La Liga champions attracting their main targets?

Bartomeu said; “The Premier League is a reference point. La Liga are learning a lot of things from them. We have a new law that obliges the clubs to sell all the TV rights jointly because we have to follow the Premier League.

“Barcelona and Real Madrid are the biggest clubs but others like Atletico Madrid, Valencia, Sevilla or Athletic Bilbao are doing a nice job.

“We want people to watch our competition, not only the Premier League. On an individual club basis, we know the competition is getting closer, not just with the Premier League but also Paris St-Germain and Bayern Munich.”

Barcelona are one of the world’s richest clubs. The Catalan club have a kit deal with Nike and a shirt sponsorship deal with Qatar Sports Development, with both expected to add further revenue.


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Ahead of Barcelona’s friendly against Manchester United, Bartomeu was asked of his views on the Premier League’s most successful side.

“They are one of the biggest clubs in the world. They have always been very successful and will be successful in the future.

“We know their coach, Louis van Gaal, very well. He was also coach of our team. We know how strong, intelligent and clever he is, and how he gets the best from his players. United are going to be one of the top clubs this year, I’m sure.”

The Dutchman was manager of Barcelona from 1997 and 2000, before returning in 2002 for another season. During his time with the club, van Gaal gave debuts to Xavi, Carles Puyol, Andres Iniesta and Victor Valdes, all of which went on to become synonymous with the clubs success both domestically and in Europe.

The Barcelona President added that the Dutchman was a good choice of manager for the Premier League side.

“Van Gaal did something very good by having a lot of confidence in our young players, He used them a lot. He was right because for the last 12 or 15 years those players have been the best players in our team.”

Given the astronomical amount of money for television rights, the Premier League is in a position to attract some of the world’s greatest player’s. That said, Barcelona were the most successful side in Europe last season, with Juventus and Bayern Munich both winning domestic doubles.

The Premier League will continue to attract top players regardless of the television rights, but the deal certainly helps.

Barcelona Josep Maria Bartomeu la liga Luis Suarez

About Dale Ventham

Dale Ventham is an editor at The Sports Lowdown. He writes on the lower leagues of English football and Speedway in particular.

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