Barcelona's sporting director Robert Fernandez admitted in an interview with SPORT that all this summer's signings were made becuase the squad needed freshening up to ensure maximum performance in all three competitions this season. He also assured the continuity of Lionel Messi, whose contract expires in 2018.
--Were there many players who did not want to come to Barça this summer?
All the players that have arrived had it very clear that it was a big challenge to come to this team: none of them said that they didn't want to come. Of the rest, a lot of news has been reported, but in many cases, of players we didn't even contact, but that's normal, it happens every summer. What's important is that six players wanted to come here, compete and grow as players.
--Is there a change in the politics of the signings? Should we forget the super signings and get used to signing players at medium cost, the middle class?
The real lesson is that we have an extraordinary team now: in the last decade we've won 90 per cent of titles and, in addition, played well. From there, what do you look for, players with enthusiasm or players who will cost you 70, 80 million euros and could be a problem if they don't play?
--Like Paul Pogba?
I'm not saying anyone in concrete. I'm talking about the planning. First you have to know what you already have and then you go to the market. If you do it in the reverse, you make mistakes. And here the players are good, spectacular, the best in the world.
--Among them is Messi, what will happen with his future?
The president [Josep Maria Bartomeu] has already said. This year there are a number of situations we need to solve. As was the case with Rafinha, Busquets, Neymar and Mascherano, people said we wouldn't reach an agreement, but in the end there were no problems.
--But Messi's the most difficult, right?
--He's the No.1 in the world, he could choose any team without a problem...
I'm delighted that he's the No.1 in the world and that he's with us. We will reach an agreement. I'm totally convinced.
--Is there a rush?
There's no rush. This season we will reach an agreement. Like we did with Rafinha, Mascherano, Busi and Neymar.
--What did the team need in the winter market?
The press are the first to say that the team needed something more, that it needed more depth. The journalists have said it a 1000 times, after every game, that Luis Enrique didn't have enough options.
--Do you mean that things weren't done well last year?
No, I'm not saying that. I say that the team, to compete in three competitions, needed more presence. We have considered that a number of positions needed things doing and we've done those things so that we don't go into the final part of the season short.
--There won't be any more 'big' signings to excite the fans?
If you don't need anything, why are you going yo buy? We don't need 'big' signings because the fans are already excited. If we don't lack anything, we don't need to [buy]. If we have the best players, we have to get the best out of them, keep them happy. And if you need anything, you have to look for it.
--Were you limited by money?
No. I think we've done good deals. Umtiti in the current market would be worth a lot more. The Premier League ended up paying 40 million euros for Mustafi, for example.
--Why did you travel to Brazil so much without signing anyone?
We saw a lot of players, but in nearly every case, they were the same cost as players in Europe, and in some cases more expensive. In the end we chose Alcacer, who already has La Liga experience. His adaption will be much quicker. I always say that there are very few South Americans that come here, to a big club, and triumph [immediately]. Nearly all of them have to pay a toll [elsewhere] first, like Rivaldo at Depor, Ronaldinho at PSG, Ronaldo at PSV and so on. The only one is Neymar and perhaps Marcelo. There aren't players that come from South America and are a success straight away at a young age. It could have been a better bet [to sign from Brazil], but we're talking about the same money and Paco Alcacer is the reality.