Markel Zubizarreta: “Lluís Cortés told me that he did not want to continue”

In 2017, two years after arriving at the club, FC Barcelona placed its trust in Markel Zubizarreta as general manager of women’s football and, after building a champion team, analyzed the news for MD and spoke for the first time after the change of coach of the last summer.

How did Lluís Cortés say goodbye?

They were strange days because we did not play anything. At the moment that Lluís told us that he did not want to continue, we dedicated ourselves to looking for a replacement. I understand that from outside it is a bit strange that a team that has won everything is like this.

How did you find out?

The first communication I receive is when you tell me that your intention is not to continue the following year. I do not know the date but it was practically the week that he said it publicly.

For those who do not understand it yet, how is it explained?

In the end, the decision was Lluís’s personal, therefore why is an answer that he could give you better than me.

Let’s go to the present. What is it like to be the architect of the champion of everything?

In the end it is the same as when I started three or four years ago with the same position. It is doing a project, thinking in the medium and long term but without neglecting the day to day and being clear that due to the identity of the club we have quite marked lines of how we want to go and where we want to go and how far we want to go.

Is the style non-negotiable?

We believe that the way we do things gives us more chances to win. Now it seems that we are the team that has won everything and everything is successful, but here we have lived four years of not winning the League, of continuing to invest in this and in the end it has paid off.

What does it mean to see three culés as finalists for the best in Europe?

In all these awards there is always a point of injustice. I would have chosen the 24 that we have on our staff. We have become a reference and with different profiles. The one who has grown up with us, like Alexia or Aitana; the Spanish that came and has continued to grow, like Jenni, Paños, Mapi … and those that we have brought from abroad and have come to make a difference, Lieke or Graham. It says a lot about the great work that was done last year.

Do you expect to see a Barça Ballon d’Or this year?

These types of awards are not under our control. Obviously, with the season that we have done and looking at the European awards, it is clear that we have many more options. If you win, perfect. If not, honestly, it will cost me a lot to understand but in the end we can not control it.

How do you improve a team that has won everything?

As a collective and as a project, and here I speak of all parties, we always tend to review everything we do to continue improving. There are many things that we can continue to improve, we cannot think that everything is done but that right now it is time to continue improving.

Why did they choose Giráldez?

The idea was to give continuity to the project from a sporting point of view. And for that we decided to have Jonatan. It was a very simple decision, a safe bet. We knew him and we knew that we can improve.

How do you convince the cracks to come?

In the end, what we are looking for in the market are differential players who are going to give us different things. It is not about convincing them, we tell them how we work, how we feel about the game, the training sessions. Then we have facilities such as living in Barcelona. We have earned that part. We are looking for players who are willing to step out of their comfort zone.

How have the three signings this summer been?

One of the big differences compared to when I started is that before what called was FC Barcelona, ​​as a club, now what draws attention is our women’s football project. When you talk to these players, they already hear you in a different way. It is not that it is getting easier every time, because it is not that, but our project sells itself. Before I had to explain it more.

The quarry works a lot.

You end up following the ‘B’ or the Youth more but I follow all grassroots football, coordinated by Jordi Ventura and which has been going on for many years, but I am aware of everything. What is basic are the players of the house, who understand our game model and provide an identity stamp that comes naturally to them. The level we have in the first team makes it increasingly difficult to get there, it is not as easy as six years ago. Hence the transfer, we have to find a different way for them. But we believe that the players of the house are the base of today and of the future.

Does all the noise around the club reach you?

We are a small island within this whole club. In the end we are not alien to the situation of the club and the world in general. In the day to day it affects you little because the team is isolated and focused on what it touches.

Have they talked to you about a salary reduction?

No, in the end we are part of the club and what the club says we will manage and try to do, looking at the best for the club.

What is happening with the professional league?

From the point of view of the Government, which is what the CSD represents, it has been decided to create a professional League and it is in the process of converting it. It is not done overnight because you have to lay the foundations for the future of the competition. We are working on it, it is a little longer than expected.

Will it come to fruition?

All parties want to enter a professional environment. Looking at the great European references, we all see the English league and we see a league that we want to resemble. This process, due to the situation of government structures and at the legal level that must be done, is laborious. You have to create a structure that lasts forever. These pillars are important.

How is your professional day to day?

I arrive at the Ciutat Esportiva quite early, when I drop off my children at school. Depending on the day I can be in the office, on the field, meeting with the coaching staff or a player. We put in many hours, we arrive very early and we leave quite late. The weekend is first for work and then for the family, it becomes quite difficult but we try to combine it and do what we can.

How much time do you spend on soccer?

We are in a high-performance environment and in an environment like Barça with the highest aspirations, and you have to dedicate a lot of time to it. Dedicating three hours a day and hoping to be European champions, I don’t know how to do it. I don’t know if anyone knows how to do it. My way of working is long and long. It is very difficult to reconcile with family life and we try to comply everywhere. Now that I have small children and you miss things that you would not want to miss but they are the circumstances, and it is not a complaint but it is the reality.

How many games does he get to see?

Everything is a team effort. I never decide on a signing alone. The last decision may be mine but I have some information filters that our scouting team makes us and sometimes also with the coaching staff and a global assessment is made.

Your hardest moment?

I could not tell. All the hard moments have led us to learnings. The departure of Fran Sánchez in the middle of the season was not easy to manage, especially on a personal level, but you learn from everything. Every time you cancel, they are moments that are not pleasant.

The best moment?

Win the Champions. When time passes you remember more of the road than of the day of the final. What you feel when Vicky raises the glass is very special.

What would you sign up to achieve next?

The goal is to be better. As much as we have some cups that say we have been, the goal is to keep improving in all areas and we have much, much, much to improve. If in a year the feeling is that we continue to improve is the best that can be said about us.

Read also

  • Markel Zubizarreta: “The nominations are the result of the work of the entire team”

  • Markel Zubizarreta: “Lluís Cortés told me that he did not want to continue”

  • Carlos Naval already has relief as delegate of the Barça

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