Hristo Stoichkov, the Bulgarian former player of Barcelona and Ballon d'Or in 1994, spoke exclusively from the United States with Infobae, referred to the present of his former club, was very hard with the VAR and said that he contacted Riquelme ten days ago.
-You who were a star and who played so many years with that shirt, what do you think is happening to Barcelona?
– What happens to him is not at all strange. You win and you lose and now you have to lose the League after so many years of winning it. Many believe that there is a crisis because of that, but it is normal not to win sometime. What I think is happening is that the club must realize that It is a very veteran establishment in average age and then it has to project for one or two years from now, because if not in the near future there will be more problems. But it must be borne in mind that the Spanish League is for two teams only, Barcelona and Real Madrid, who usually get more than 20 points each season from the third. Now it was Real Madrid's turn.
-In the background, what problems do you see in Barcelona?
-It has to have a well-prepared structure. You can't change the style because this club is a registered trademark, but at the same time you have to try to see how it can be kept. When we had Johan Cruyff as a coach in the 90s, we had to change positions being in many cases the same players. I think this Barcelona needs faster players, it has to have players to break the rivals' exit or their defenses, like we had (Andoni) Goikoetxea, (Michael) Laudrup, (Txiki) Begiristain, or myself. But if only (Lionel) Messi or (Luis) Suárez will be at the top, it will cost much more.
-What was done wrong this season?
-I think that the pandemic hurt Barcelona because it came back on an equal footing with Real Madrid, but it had two very bad results, such as the draw in Vigo against Celta and the one at Camp Nou against Atlético Madrid. There were four decisive points that were lost and now he has the Champions League in which the teams are much more aggressive and prepared. It is not the same as the Spanish League. And it also comes from two hard blows in previous European competitions.
-Of course, he suffered two comebacks in the last two seasons.
-In Rome, two seasons ago, a team was seen that could not get up. He spent last year against Liverpool again because that 3-0 first leg at the Camp Nou was a "cheating" result. I warned him because after that everyone saw each other in the Madrid final, which was also like playing it at home, with a field in which the team was used to playing for the League, but in Anfield, in the rematch, there was a losing mindset. The face of the players usually says it all and in that case, it did, and again they went back and stayed outside.
-So you can deduce what happens to a player by his face?
-When you are not focused, that usually happens.
– So this Barcelona squad is a loser?
– I do not say that. Barcelona spent a lot of money on transfers, but the players are not to blame. What blame can be placed on (Antoine) Griezmann, world champion with France? (Ousmane) Dembélé is 20 years old and has a lot to learn. He lacks someone to work with him. I think Barcelona lacks coaches who do specific work per line. I was lucky to have had Cruyff, who was a teacher. Something like that is missing. I wonder who is going to pay 120 million euros now for Dembélé, or for Philippe Coutinho, for whom Barcelona paid a fortune. But the team is not a loser, it won many titles in the decade. What you need is a replacement.
– And then, being like this, who do you think should be the future coach of Barcelona? Because everything indicates that if he does not win the Champions League, it does not seem that Quique Setién will last long.
-It doesn't matter who comes. The issue is not to change the system. They want to invent things and in football you can no longer invent. There are eleven players on each side and a ball and, as Cruyff did, you have to put the one who is best at all times. Now if you do nothing from Monday to Friday, it is impossible to have a performance in the match. AND Nor can it be that at this stage of his career, Messi plays fifty games a year. He has to rotate and rest, just like Suárez, (Jordi) Alba or (Sergio) Busquets.
-Many also complained about the incidence of VAR in the definition of the League, with many dubious and continuous penalties against Real Madrid.
-I like VAR, but I think the referees are very lazy, very little concentrated on the plays. They are attentive to the jelly, the haircut, the colored clothes. In England, Italy and Spain weird things are happening with arbitrations. There are strange decisions that are made because they are very mediocre and don't know anything about football. Those who are behind the VAR, in the cabin, with what dignity do they then go out to explain what they received? I don't understand why there is not a former player, a defender or a striker, among those who decide if there was a penalty or offside, someone who can know if you were purposely pushed or not in a play before they took out a card for a lack that did not exist. Does a referee know better than I what happened on a rally? But they are not interested. On the last date of the League, they did not give a clear penalty to Leganés, who was playing the save from relegation against Real Madrid and the referee will not even see the screen to see if it was criminal because he is satisfied with what he they say from the cabin.
-It is striking how many times the referees do not make decisions for themselves. At the last World Cup, at the press conference, Pierluigi Colina and Massimo Busacca, the highest officials of the FIFA Referee Committee, strongly recommended that the referees go to the screen for a psychological reason that they feel that the final decisions are their own.
-If the image is frozen in the play of the expulsion of Ansu Fati in Barcelona-Osasuna, explain to me these phenomena at what point the boy does the foul when the defender sets foot and at no time does he go wrong towards the leg of the rival, who falls injured and the referee has to decide in three seconds. It is worrying because the referees are lazy. At the time, coaches such as Josep Guardiola or José Mourinho already expressed their concern about this. The referees are not prepared, and so they start with speculations when they study the images in the repetition: "Look at it yourself" … "It seems to me" … The problem is that there is no preparation. And that happens at the level of the League, UEFA, FIFA …
– Returning to Barcelona, do you think that as things stand, Messi can go?
-Messi is a myth, the greatest soccer player, but like everyone, he needs people who can help him, he needs to know what system is going to be used, but don't get excited in South America because your career at Barcelona will end. He was born in Argentina but has the DNA of Barcelona. The board of directors clings to Messi but has to make an effort to improve the team. The better team, the happier Leo will be. This is a clear message that I give to the leaders.
– But Messi is going to want to continue with these leaders with all the problems that exist in the club and with the squad?
– That is why none of these leaders is going to be next year, after the elections. I do not believe that any member will vote for this board of directors with all that has already been discovered. Anyway, when I was a player, what happened with the leaders did not affect me. I was playing soccer, although I don't know how that affects today.
-Many believe that the fire can be extinguished with the arrival of Xavi Hernández as coach if the Champions League is not won in August.
-Xavi will not come now. Next year, yes, but with this board of directors, I don't think so. He said it clearly: he wants to stay one more year in Qatar, calmly assemble his coaching staff.
-And then, who do you think should be the coach of Barcelona?
-There are very good DTs who went through Barcelona but have suffered a lot, they have made their lives impossible. There the press writes what it wants. Many players left Barcelona and myself badly, I did not fare well, but the most important thing is the partner, the people, who should not be mixed in this. People are humble, dear, love the club. The Catalan public is apart from everything we talk about, but the leaders think of other things.
-Among the players who went wrong or could not succeed at Barcelona is Juan Román Riquelme. Why do you think that happened?
-Better he explain it. You know well what I think. I know why not and I know his subject well, but a player who did well in Boca, in the Argentine team, in Villarreal … Argentines have always played very well here, (Javier) Mascherano, (Javier) Saviola, Riquelme … about ten days ago I spoke to him.
-Was it because of something related to Boca?
-Private things that I will not count (laughs)
– Returning to the technical director of Barcelona, what do you think of the current one, Quique Setién?
– Quique is very humble, I know him well enough, but there is capacity and capacity and one thing is Betis, or Las Palmas, and another thing is Barcelona. His assistant (Eder Sarabia) does not paint anything and has problems with the wardrobe. The image of the other day when the party stopped to drink water and they turned their back on an indication, is very clear. With this wizard you are not going anywhere. It takes character.
-And then, who is the one?
-No idea. I think (Francisco Javier) García Pimienta, from Barcelona B, has his right, as Guardiola did in the same situation at the time. Anyway, we ex-players think from the outside and often don't listen to our advice either. When Massimiliano Allegri was released from Juventus, I asked if he was not to head Barcelona, but no, 500 million euros are spent when they could sign much better with much less money. The less you have, the better you sign.
-But is it a DT or transfer problem?
-There is no quarry either. In recent times there are two players who can have a great future, such as Ansu Fati and Riqui Puig, but it is not known. What is clear is that a litter like that of (Carles) Puyol, Xavi, (Andrés) Iniesta, (Víctor) Valdés, Bojan (Krkic) or (Gerard) Piqué has not emerged. You have to wonder who works with young people, who are coaches, teachers, because many of those times were taken by Liverpool, Manchester City, Qatar and having Barcelona B in Second B (Third Division of Spain) is another problem. .
– Did soccer change much with the pandemic?
-Everything is very different now. There are many people suffering in the world. It is a virus that does a lot of damage. It is something well thought out for years.
-So you believe in a conspiracy …
-It is a bacterium well thought out by specialized people. This has caused thrombosis, heart attacks. These viruses carry material well placed inside. See if the vaccine comes out so that it can be fixed at once. I take three times as much care as before, I wash my hands, I do everything I can do. I don't believe it for calling me Stoichkov. There are people who say that this is nothing, but speak for speaking. It is not really said what it is, there is a lot of business.
-And more specifically in soccer? What a change?
-And I ask what can be done? You have to respect the situation and play behind closed doors until the public returns to the stadiums. In my country there were three thousand people in the same day to see a final and that turned out to be a disaster and many infections, like in Romania. In Germany, England or Spain it was decided to play without an audience and it was over. And you have to accept it like this.
-What is of your life?
-I'm very comfortable here in Miami commenting on soccer for a TV network. Univisión, with great journalists, and I am also related to CSKA Sofía.
-Did you talk to Diego Maradona lately?
-Bye. See you tomorrow.