“I was sad to leave Barça but it was time”
Juan Miranda (Olivares, Seville, 2000) celebrates its second season at the Betis, after a first as transferred and disengaged already in the summer of the Barça, where he entered in 2014 when he was 14 after being from eight to six in the Verdiblanca quarry. Tomorrow (4.15pm) he will play as a rival for the first time at the Camp Nou.
How are you in your second season at Betis?
Yes, already more settled after last year’s loan. The first season is different because I had been in the quarry but never in the first team. The team is very good, winning, forming a team both on and off the field. And it shows because afterwards it moves into the field.
It’s more expensive to play than last year, right?
We have entered Europe and that demands more of you. We have a good and long squad and the coach is rotating. We are all at a great level. And collectively it shows.
He has fulfilled the dream of playing with his Betis in Europe.
It’s lucky to play in Europe with the club you love the most. He thinks that I watched it from the stands and now I enjoy it on the field. It is true that we are going to Glasgow more relaxed after securing second place in the group.
And this weekend, visit the Camp Nou. How do you deal with it?
It will be another very special moment and I will be able to reconnect with old friends. The situation on the board makes it even more beautiful and at the same time more difficult. We are there Barça and Betis, fighting both to be up.
He already played last year, but without an audience. How do you expect the culé fans to receive you?
I hope it’s ok. I am delighted with the Barça fans and with the club. It has given me the opportunity to be in professional football and I will always be grateful to the club.
Come to Barça through the rear-view mirror on the table.
Barcelona, Madrid and Atlético are always up there and seeing Barça down there is strange. They are in that process of change. I think he will have a great team and he did not doubt that he will continue to be great and will fight for the titles.
Do you trust Xavi to re-float the team?
It’s early but it seems like a good option. He knows the club perfectly and it’s like Barça and Xavi are made for each other. He knows the methods to return him to the top and I am sure he will be a great coach for Barcelona.
He had a special relationship with Gavi at La Masia. Did you imagine their irruption?
He was like my little brother. It came in two years after I was there. He was from Seville, with a Betic past, so I was very aware of him. I spoke with him in the national team, because we coincide in Las Rozas. He is enjoying it and he still does not believe it. I’m happy for him because he’s a 10 as a player and as a person.
He was little in the first team.
What touched me and the truth is that I am very grateful. I remember the first Champions League game especially. I was nervous because he made his debut in Europe, at a Barça-Tottenham and at the Camp Nou. The fans were 10 with me and made it very easy for me.
Perhaps the worst memory is that Cup match against Levante, which Valverde changed at halftime?
That game affected me because of my youth, because you feel marked. I had to live that moment, but it was the beginning and the career of a footballer is very long. The important thing is to know how to handle it well, because if you don’t know how to manage moments like this, you have nothing to do in professional football. Mine, my parents and my family helped me a lot and I knew how to get along. It was like a bump in my career and I am aware that sooner or later more will surely come.
How did the dressing room and Valverde, who made him debut?
They were very much on top of me. Nor was there to be alarmed. It was just a bad game and little else. Everyone has a bad game, no more. You have to take it naturally.
This summer he definitively disassociated himself from Barça. Did Koeman speak to you?
I never spoke to Koeman. I saw that at the beginning it did count because they took me to the preseason, but the one that those from above returned to, I was going down to B. It was like a hint. I knew that my team was Barça B, my rings would not have fallen by staying in the subsidiary, but Betis emerged and for me it was a great opportunity.
And now that you see Barça betting on young people, do you have a thorn in it?
Now Barça is experiencing another stage. The first team is in a process of change and when I was there they won everything and it was very difficult to enter. I do not regret anything. I was very happy there and they made me a footballer. From there I learned a lot at La Masia and thanks to Barça I am where I am.
He had two more optional years to continue and Barça did not execute them and, in addition, he had to pay compensation. His outing this summer was a bit weird. Did it taste bad?
I was sorry. Because you’ve been there for many years, but it was my time to make the leap. I looked prepared.
Was the door permanently closed?
You never know. In football, who knows. I am very happy here, I hope I will be playing for my Betis for many years as I have always said.