Marc Bartra keeping his head down
Barcelona defender Marc Bartra says he is focusing on making the most of his current run in the first team, and not thinking about whether he might be playing elsewhere next season.
• Tomas: Go Barca
Bartra, 22, has impressed in Barca’s last two games, with clean sheets kept at Almeria in La Liga and Celtic in the Champions League.
Such performances have directed minds in Catalonia towards his current contract, which ends in June, meaning he could move for free next summer.
The La Masia graduate, however, said he is confident that contract-renewal talks with the club will be successful and he will remain at the Camp Nou.
“I am very relaxed about the contract situation -- my agent and the club are discussing that,” Bartra said. “I just need to focus on my football. I have been here 12 years and hope to be here for many more. I know that the club and my agent are working on the subject. I do not think about what might happen later.
“Bit by bit I am feeling more loved here -- I am in the first-team squad two seasons now, picking up things from the best players in the world. In Glasgow it was incredible, everything, not just the game, but the atmosphere too. There was a lot of pressure, but you transform that into motivation to do well.”
With Javier Mascherano still sidelined, Bartra looks set to start again when Valladolid visit the Camp Nou on Saturday -- although Carles Puyol trained again with the group on Thursday and may get a first call-up of the season this weekend.
Bartra said he appreciates the confidence shown in him by coach Gerardo Martino, who did not push to sign another centre-back after joining the club in the summer.
“Personally, everything has gone well from pre-season until now,” he said. “[Martino] has shown confidence in me and I am happy with that. I remember in pre-season there was a lot of talk about whether another centre-back was coming or not. It would have been more difficult for me if that happened, but Martino gave me confidence by saying he was not going to sign anyone. So it has gone well for me.”
Bartra said he realises he will spend more time back on the bench once his senior team-mates, Mascherano and Puyol, are available again, but he has never thought about leaving the club on loan to gain first-team experience elsewhere.
“I have always been focused on being here at Barca, on being with the best, it has not gone through my head to leave,” he said. “If a new centre-half had arrived it might have been different, but I never thought about other things.”
Barca have reported no new fitness worries after Tuesday’s 1-0 win at Celtic Park, although Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba still remain unavailable through injury.