Barcelona´s Jonathan Soriano, top scorer in La Segunda last season with 32 goals, was injured in the pre-season game against Bayern Munich whilst trying to force his way into boss Pep Guardiola´s plans. A clash with Bayern´s Anatoliy Tymoshchuk resulted in a cruciate ligament injury which kept him out of Barca´s tour to the United States. Now the 25-year-old is thinking only of recovery, yet with a first-team place still a possibility he prefers not to raise his hopes too high. However, if the club receives no serious offers for him he will be happy to see out the remaining year of his contract with Barcelona B.
Nobody likes to get injured but it hurt more to hear I had to return home. I was thrilled to be part of the tour and to have to come back was hard, although these things happen and you have to get used to them.
– Do you feel as if you have missed out?
Whenever Guardiola gives you the opportunity you need to take it. He might see something in you he likes in a friendly, in training…you must take advantage of it.
– You looked in good form..
I felt very good physically, part of the team. It was the same as at the end of last season and I came back this term strong and enthusiastic. I was short of a goal but the important thing was to get physically fit.
– What did Pep say to you when you had to leave?
He encouraged me, as did everybody else in the dressing room. It always helps. When a Coach such as Pep appreciates your efforts, you take it on board. A lot of my teammates showed their support in person or on Twitter. Puyol, Pique, Iniesta…they are world stars, players you know are quality footballers, and then you also see what they are like as people. That´s why Barca is what it is.
– How was it being with the first team?
To be able to share a hotel, meals, training, everything, with the first team is a luxury. It is very rewarding. These are experiences in life you never forget.
– All that after a summer of rumours…
Summers are never easy. One week I´d put them to one side, the next week to the other. This summer I travelled a lot! When I wasn´t in the Ukraine I was in Belgium, and if not there in Austria or Italy… there are times you need to know when to relax. Luckily I have a contract with Barca which allows me to relax because I´ve always got the option to stay. But I was close to joining Red Bull Salzburg. I was in Torremirona with the B team and they told me a move to Salzburg was almost complete. Then they phoned and told me it wasn´t. I´m sure there was nothing more to it, so I just relaxed and got over it.
– What is your priority now?
The first thing I have to do is recover as best I can and I would like to do it here, where the doctors know my condition and have a plan for me.
– If they offer you a first team squad place as fifth or sixth striker, would you accept it?
Nobody would reject the Barcelona first team, there´s no doubt about that. Not least me, who comes from the B team! These are opportunities you never know if you will get again and you need to take them. If I stayed I wouldn´t hesitate. It´s very difficult as I could be fifth in line or left out of the squad, but you don´t know what will happen as there are many different permutations and you have to keep fighting every day.
– You must look at it with a child´s eagerness…
It certainly makes me eager. Those are big words. All the players are world class and to be able to share experiences with them, even for a season, would be great. All your life you´d be able to say you were in Barcelona´s first team.
– Does it help that you play as a ´false` No 9 such as Messi?
Last year I talked with Luis Enrique about it. He wanted me to feel comfortable. I like to be in the area, and while I´m not particularly strong and fast I like passing combinations, being active, and not spending five minutes without touching the ball. I asked him to give me some freedom and he told me to do what I wanted, drop into central midfield or go out to the wings, as long as I was in the box when a cross came in. And we hit the nail on the head. I was more comfortable, happier. You feel more a part of the game. Barca get that from Messi and I have also adapted. Guardiola told me to play how I did for the reserves, drop into the middle, and I found it very good playing with Thiago, Iniesta…they are players that improve you. Everybody at Barca helps you and is supportive.
– Would you spend another year with the B team?
I´d have no problem staying. Now is not the moment to go on an adventure. Spain? The market is very slow but there is still time until August 31.
– Have you spoken to Eusebio Sacrist