A trusted advisor to FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta known as his ‘sheriff’ has slammed the club’s former player Ousmane Dembele for his lack of loyalty while firing a warning to head coach Xavi Hernandez through an interview with SPORT.
Enric Masip is widely-known as one of the best Spanish handball players of all time. After 14 years playing for Barca’s team in the sport, he now serves as a member of the sports commission whose advice Laporta respects.
During football’s international break, he was asked a series of questions by daily newspaper SPORT including whether the €50.4 million ($54 million) departure Dembele made during the recent summer transfer window left him disappointed.
“Evidently,” Masip answered. “I like good players, but I prefer committed players. If you have both, perfect.
“Dembele already showed his lack of commitment when he did not renew [his contract]. I prefer a player who gives me a seven or an eight to one who gives me a ten and two days later he goes to another team to earn more.
“It’s very easy to kiss the badge when you score a goal or sell smoke on social media,” Masip continued. It’s not a crime to want to earn more, but when one is committed he does not look at the money and does not say one thing one day and another [thing] another day.
“I prefer to play with a boy from La Masia or with Raphinha, who gives everything in every training session, than with someone who one day gives you a nine and another gives a three.”
As for head coach Xavi, who was a known admirer of Dembele’s, Masip first explained how “everyone here knows that you have to win and play well”.
“Xavi knows it and President Laporta knows it. What he has done has a lot of merit. Accepting to come here with hardly any experience, to a locker room with former teammates who had complicated contracts.”
“He will be judged, as always, by the results,” Masip added, though he did point out that Xavi is “highly valued” at his boyhood club.
“He won a spectacular league against Real Madrid and we must consolidate that success and compete for the Champions League.”
For this endeavour, Masip believes Xavi has a “crazy squad” at his disposal. Among even the most optimistic observers, however, it would be naive not to think that his job might be at risk with a third successive failure to qualify out of the group in Europe – especially when considering the comparative stature of the first set of opponents Barca must face, with all due respect.