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Managers star in Premier League, players shine in Spain: Bartomeu

FC Barcelona's president Josep Maria Bartomeu attends a news conferece to assess the season 2015/16 next to Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, June 30, 2016. REUTERS/Albert Gea
FC Barcelona's president Josep Maria Bartomeu attends a news conferece to assess the season 2015/16 next to Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, June 30, 2016. REUTERS/Albert Gea

REUTERS - The English Premier League boasts some of the top managers in the game but to see the best players in the world you have to watch Spanish soccer, Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu said.

While much of the focus in England is placed on managers such as Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, Juergen Klopp and Antonio Conte, Bartomeu said La Liga revolves around players like Lionel Messi.

"That's why La Liga is making a lot of effort as a league. But when we talk about La Liga I am very happy because the best players in the world play here -- Messi, number one," Bartomeu said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph.

"For me, Neymar, number two. Cristiano Ronaldo, number three ... So the best players in the world are playing in La Liga.

"The stars who are players are here, and maybe, right now, in the Premier League the stars are the coaches. Not the players. So there are different ways of going to the world and showing our sport."

With the Premier League's 5.14 billion pounds ($6.28 billion) domestic television rights deal kicking in this season, Bartomeu said English clubs have more financial muscle than their Spanish rivals.

"Right now the Premier League is doing things correctly -- the last few years every club is having more and better possibilities with their economic capacity," the 53-year-old said.

"Not only bringing people to the stadium, on finding sponsorship, rights. The Premier League is now our rival because when we are going abroad, when we go for a sponsor or TV rights, we find the Premier League there all the time.

"When we try and find new players you find teams like Arsenal, Tottenham, Man City, United, Chelsea... But if I look at it football-wise then La Liga is still the best."

With Messi's contract expiring after the 2018 World Cup, Bartomeu said Barcelona were set to begin talks over the Argentine's future at the Nou Camp.

"Not yet. But we will have the negotiation with Messi in the next couple of months," he added.

($1 = 0.8184 pounds)

(Reporting by Shravanth Vijayakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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