Exclusive with Atletico pres. Cerezo: 'Suarez? Do you think any transfers are free?'

SPORT EXCLUSIVE

The Atletico Madrid president sat down with SPORT ahead of Saturday's crunch Camp Nou clash

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Ivan San Antonio

Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo welcomed SPORT at Mercury Films, his production company based in Pozuelo de Alarcón. Friendly and talkative, Cerezo spoke about a number of issues surrounding Barcelona and Atletico ahead of Saturday's huge game at Camp Nou.

A huge game Camp Nou. Feelings?

It's difficult to make predictions. These games are difficult to call. What's easy to say is that the two teams will go for the win because La Liga's at stake. We were lucky enough that the last league we won a few years ago was won at Camp Nou. Especially as the Barça fans, after losing the title, applauded us. And that remains in the memory of all Atletico supporters.

Your best memory at Camp Nou?

I think so, apart from the great matches we've had there, the 4-3, 5-4, 4-5.... They were exciting games and people were happy whoever won.

Are you nervous before a game like this?

Not normally. The nerves arrive when the game starts.

A reunion with Joan Laporta...

It's been a long time since I saw him, but we had a great relationship and I imagine that, on a personal level, that will still be the case. It's been seven or eight years, though. I wish him all the luck in the world.

You got on well with Bartomeu.

A great Barcelona president. One day, people will realise what he's done with Barça.

You've always shown admiration for him.

I've defended him because I think he managed the club well and if you ask me about the Luis Suarez deal, I think it was a good operation for Barça, Atletico and Suarez.

We will speak about Suarez later, someone who's been key in helping Atletico to the top.

We've been leaders for a long time and we still are, but that doesn't mean anything. There have been sides that have lost La Liga in the last minute. We want to win it, not in the last minute, but weeks before. But Saturday will be a great game, with a lot of emotions, great football and an outcome that I couldn't tell you...

Simeone has always rejected being favourites. Do you?

Each person and each club has their system. Sometimes systems work well and you don't have to change them. To say you're favourites when there are four games left and important games to come... It's difficult to give an opinion, you'd have to be a fortune-teller and fortune-tellers don't exist in football.

The top four meet this weekend.

To avoid arguments, the best would be for everyone to draw. With that, we'd have the problem solved and we'd all be happy.

Above all Atletico. Will the top team after the weekend win the league?

Given how La Liga is, it's complicated (to say). There are four games left, then three, then two. And everyone has difficult games.

Back to Suarez, he could copy David Villa by winning a title with Atletico after leaving Barça.

What a memory you have.

For bad things!

Luis Suarez is a magnificent player and a great person. Barcelona don't have Luis Suarez anymore, but they have a great team and top players. We will go out to win. If we win, we'll be happy. If we lose, well, it will be down to bad luck or playing poorly.

Did Atletico pay anything for Suarez?

What I can confirm and I will tell you with my heart in my hands is that Barcelona, Atletico and Suarez have all benefitted and when the three parties are happy, it's because everything's gone well.

Financially benefitted?

Do you think there's any transfer where there's no financial compensation?

Not normally.

Write that yourself then. Do what you want (smiles).

No, no. I will write what you say.

You have to have an opinion as well. An interviewee without an interviewer is no one.

But I ask questions.

But we both have an opinion.

But I don't know the details of the deal, that's why I ask.

What would you have liked? That there's money involved or not?

The only thing I know is Barça didn't want him.

Whatever you say. We won't argue.

There was money involved for Griezmann...

That's all forgotten. Griezmann's at Barcelona, he decided to leave and there he is, playing. It was good business for Atletico, for Griezmann and for Barcelona.

Did they end up paying more than the clause?

Yes, there was something...

Did they also get the first option on certain players?

No, no. There was an amount of money, but if you want the truth, I don't remember.

Barça don't owe anything anymore?

No, Barça don't owe anything. They're a great club and one of the biggest teams in the world. I wish them luck in everything.

They had the first option on Manquillo, Saúl, Giménez one... do they still?

No, that's something I don't remember well now, but they were small details.

Was there ever a genuine chance of Saul joining Barça?

Yes, there was a moment when he could have gone to Barça, but many players could have gone to Barça. There's a good relationship between the two clubs and I hope that continued with Joan because he's a great guy, a great person and he was a wonderful president.

Griezmann could return to Atletico?

Not that I know of, but you never know in this life.

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