Jonathan dos Santos says too much has been made of Gerard Pique’s comments that Barcelona were “slaves” to tiki-taka under Pep Guardiola and Tito Vilanova.
Pique this week welcomed the tactical tweaks being made by new coach Gerardo Martino, suggesting that Barca had been too one-dimensional under Guardiola and Vilanova and were now playing a more flexible and direct style of football.
The Spanish media seized upon the remarks, suggesting Pique had been criticising his former bosses, but the Mexican midfielder told Esports Cope that he believes the defender’s words were “misinterpreted”.
Dos Santos added: “He has grown up here at Barcelona, with Barcelona’s philosophy, and the team has always played with that philosophy. At the moment, it is true that, maybe, as people have already seen, there are a few more long balls, and not always playing it short, so people think Barca have changed, but I do not think there is a [big] difference.
“The team is still playing the same way. It is true that the boss is asking us for what we lost a little last year, which was that intensity in pressing opponents, and to be more ‘vertical’ [direct].”
Dos Santos also said that he would have left Barca for Real Sociedad this summer but for Martino convincing him to stay at the last moment.
“I almost had both feet outside of Barca,” he said. “I had everything almost finalised with Real Sociedad but in the end, with Tata’s arrival, I stayed.”
The La Masia graduate, now 23, rarely featured under Guardiola or Vilanova but has already made a first-team appearance as a substitute under Martino. He said he remained confident he would get more chances and would eventually become an important player at the Camp Nou.
“You need a lot of patience to succeed at Barca,” Dos Santos said. “Players start to stand out at 24 or 25. I can play here, I have the game for it, but I need to work and learn from my team-mates. My dream is to succeed at the best team in the world. It is difficult to make it into the first team, but I do not want to drop that dream.”
Jonathan's older brother, Giovani, also joined La Masia as a youngster, but left for Tottenham in 2008 and subsequently spent five seasons wandering from team to team -- playing intermittently at Spurs, Ipswich, Galatasaray, Racing Santander and Real Mallorca.
Even though things going well for him now at Villarreal, Giovani had perhaps not taken the right option, the younger Dos Santos maintained.
“Things have been marvellous for him for two years now,” he said. “But I believe he made a mistake in leaving Barca. Here he could have played, but he took that decision and he does not regret it.”