What’s the story?
Talking to Spanish media after the Copa Del Rey quarterfinal draw, Barcelona director Pere Gratacos spoke about how the credit for Barcelona’s morale-boosting victory over Athletic Club Bilbao should not be credited to Lionel Messi alone
"Without [Andres] Iniesta, Neymar, Pique and others, Leo [Messi] would not be as good a player,"
In case you didn’t know...
Pere Gratacos is the director of institutional affairs, which in FC Barcelona means heading the famed Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper – (the club’s training ground and famous ‘La Masia’ academy) – and he is a man whose voice carries a lot of weight behind it.
A former central defender who joined the Barcelona academy way back in 1977, he had only 5 games with the senior team, and plied his trade across Spain with Valladolid, Osasuna (for a brief period) and Figueres.
He retired and entered the world of coaching where his most notable achievement was becoming the first manager to guide a third division team (Figueres) to the semifinals of the Copa del Rey ousting amongst others Barcelona and Osasuna (eventually losing to Deportivo La Coruna – Super Depor).
That prime of his coaching career in 2001, and in 2010 – after coaching spells at other clubs including Barcelona B – he was offered the director’s role that he currently occupies.
The heart of the matter
Having coached Leo Messi at Barcelona B, Gratacos knows a thing or two about the little Argentine, and his statement emphasises the Barcelona philosophy that the team is all-important, not any individual, and that despite the magic of Messi, it’s the teamwork.
He also went on to speak about how the draw is a tough one for Barcelona as they face a Real Sociedad side that generally tend to raise their game when the Blaugrana come a-visiting. Yet he was confident of progressing and dismissed suggestions from the reporters that the Anoeta-based team are a bogey side for the defending champions.
There are reports of a rift between the board and the players – even Iniesta mentioned it the other day – and Messi’s contracts in limbo and with the men in suits not providing any public show of commitment to ensure the Argentine superstar signs a new contract, this quote comes at the worst possible time.
While it may be unwise to read too much into the quote – especially now that Barcelona seemed to have found their way back to winning ways, it feels a little odd that he said this – considering Messi’s performances have been the basis on which Barca have maintained their form and even more so considering that Messi’s contract talks are in limbo currently.
Sometimes, the things that senior officials say can be taken the wrong way, but as long as Gratacos’s words are understood, and taken in the right spirit by his former protege, all should be well in Catalonia.