Samper: "It's possible to win the Champions League with academy stars"

The footballer, now at Vissel Kobe, gave an exclusive interview to SPORT

 El jugador del Vissel Kobe atendió a SPORT en Japón y repasó la actualidad culé | Valentí Enrich

You had the patience to form part of the first-team squad at Barça. Would you recommend the next set of youngsters to follow your lead? 

Jordi Gil

I can only speak about my path. I've always been a huge Barça fan and my dream was to succeed at the club, fighting until the end. I respect everyone's decisions, both those who stay and those who go. I'm sure they have their reasons and I won't judge them. It's their life.

Do you regret spending so much of your career at Barça only to play just a few minutes?

No, because I truly felt that is what I wanted. I'd always dreamed of that and my conscious is very clear.

Have you ever thought what might have been of your career if you had worked with Guardiola?

I would have liked to have worked with Guardiola but I don't think it helps to think about what if this or that had happened. Life goes on. You need to accept these things. Enjoy football and embrace new challenges.

Is there a reason why the expectations are so high with Riqui Puig?

He's got a lot of potential, a lot of personality and quality. But he still has a lot to learn as well, which I'm sure he will. He could become a great player.

Has Riqui shown you don't need to be particularly physical to succeed in the modern game?

Yes, especially at Barça, With the style we have it's ideal.

What do you think of the changes in La Masia and in particular the arrival of Victor Valdes to Juvenil A?

I didn't really know Victor all that well but he's a player that came through the academy and has clear concepts of what he wants to do. The players will give him the maximum respect. 

Do you understand why Barça want to take advantage of their academy again? 

It's important because it's what makes us different. I speak from personal experience because I feel part of that. It's what makes us different from the rest.

Do you think a model based on the academy is a viable option for winning the Champions League and other titles?

Of course it is. We won the most when we had academy graduates in the team. The more we have, the better it'll go. I'm sure of it.

Does the arrival of a quality youngster from elsewhere, like Frenkie de Jong, demotivate the academy more than when an established star joins?

De Jong is a great player. No one doubts that and he'll adapt quickly. He's very talented and in that regard, it won't be a problem. He's compatible with other academy players. 

You play in a similar position to him. What are the qualities of the Dutchman you like the most?

His movement. He's very intelligent, how he protects the ball, how he runs, he's always in the right place, offering an outlet for his teammates. He's very complete.

In the future do you think he could replace Sergio Busquets?

Against Chelsea, he played as a pivot. It's an option. I see him more as an interior but he could adapt to the other role as well.

Does it surprise you that Neymar could return to Barça? 

It would be a little strange but he's a great player, so anything could happen. If it's being written in the newspapers it means there's something to it.

Do you think it's possible to play with four attackers such as Neymar, Suárez, Messi and Griezmann?

It's a little complicated for the coach but I'm sure he could find a solution.

Where do you see Aleña fitting in? 

I like him a lot. He'll get chances, step by step. There's a lot of players who can play in midfield but the ones who succeed are the ones who have the biggest personalities.

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