Barcelona Also discussed dispute with the club
Former Barcelona international football advisor Ariedo Braida has revealed that the Blaugrana never attempted to acquire the services of Paul Pogba, and also claimed that the club believed that Erling Haaland was not a player who could fit in the Camp Nou side’s style.
In an interview for MARCA a couple of days before the Champions League match between the Catalans and Juventus, Braida also revealed everything about his dispute with the Barcelona board, Messi’s future and the club’s academy products.
Q. What really happened between you and Barcelona?
A. I went to Barcelona because they asked me to do so. At the beginning I was quite good, they explained to me that they would create a sports commission for signings that would be composed of President [Josep Maria] Bartomeu, Vice-president Javier Bordas, Jordi Mestre, Albert Soler and me. Well, that commission was never created. It looked like they were going to do it, but then they stopped. I worked for many years at a great club, similar to Barcelona, in AC Milan, I am very professional and I always try to do a good job, but that was not appreciated at Barcelona. In any case, that’s life, I have to move on. On December 1 we have a court date, although I think that we will not get to it because I want and hope that we will find a solution before that date.
Q. Do you feel that they did not behave in the correct way with you in the final part of your time as an advisor at Barcelona?
A. At first they did not value me and in the end they disrespected me a little. This is how I see it. I have no doubts about my professionalism and my personality. Therefore, with this lawsuit I only want the respect that I think I deserve. Nothing else.
Q. You have commented that the intention is to reach an agreement with the club. I understand that Barcelona are also looking for that resolution.
A. I don’t want to fight with anyone, I’m just looking for a solution for my case. I had two years left on my contract and they fired me without any explanation. But as I was telling you before, I hope we can find an agreement and we can all be happy.
Q. You are the man who brought in several of the great names in Milan’s history: Ruud Gullit, Kaka, Andriy Shevchenko, Thiago Silva… And many fans wonder why this did not happen at Barcelona.
A. They did not give me the responsibility and they put others in charge of this. I was studying players and I wrote down some names like Haaland from Borussia Dortmund, when he was still playing in Norway. But at the club they told me no, that he didn’t have the Barcelona profile. I also suggested other players from Italy, like [Nicolo] Barella, who is now at Inter, or [Nicolo] Zaniolo, who plays at Roma. But if you don’t have the responsibility to do this because it has been given to others, you can’t do anything. I was isolated.
Q. Following what you said, do you think that at Barcelona there are many people working but few who really know about football, unlike you?
A. I will not assess that. In football, if you have someone important at a great club, like me, I have to be given the opportunity to work. Then I will decide if I sign this player or that, but the responsibility has to be mine. I am the one that responds to all the signings. For example, [former Milan president Silvio] Berlusconi is a great character, but it was not easy to work with him. We did it for 27 years and when I suggested a signing, even if nobody in the club wanted it, they gave me the responsibility. This is how it works, because if not, the responsibility does not belong to anyone.
Q. Regarding Paul Pogba, here in Spain it was said that Braida was behind the signing and that Barcelona appointed you because you could bring the player. Was this so?
A. It’s not a lie. It is true that Albert Soler and I went to Milan and met with the Juventus board, but despite the talks, there was no real intention to sign him. In fact, Pogba ended up staying in Turin that summer and did not go to another club. I said he was a great player, I was talking about it with Albert Soler, with whom I believe we had a good personal relationship, but again, professionally, we couldn’t work together because I wasn’t allowed to.
Q. It is very important that they did not allow you to do your job.
A. The board gives you the responsibility. They said that I was not grateful, but they did not know. I liked going to see boys from the academy, Riqui Puig, [Carles] Alena, and so on. I told them in my first year that Alena had progressed. Puig, Monchu, [Alex] Collado, [Ronald] Araujo … I even looked at Ansu Fati, and in fact I spoke to his father several times in the training ground. I really liked that job because it was amazing to see guys progress over the months. I saw a certain player and I already knew that he had a lot of potential, although later there was talk of others who really had no future.
Q. I understand that you got to know Lionel Messi. What do you think will happen to him in the future?
A. This summer in Italy many journalists asked me, and I told them he would stay. Messi is a unique, great, and individual player. I think that Barcelona are a huge club and is synonymous with Messi. He is the number one.