Emmanuel Petit: “This Barça team right now are what football is all about”

Emmanuel Petit: “This Barça team right now are what football is all about”

Former France international and Barca player Emmanuel Petit shared with FIFA his thoughts about the current France side, the 2011 FIFA Ballon d’Or candidates (his choice may not go down well with cules), and the current Barca squad. Read FC Barcelona-related excerpts of the interview after the jump.

Xavi, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the three candidates for the 2011 FIFA Ballon d’Or Award. Do you agree with that shortlist?

It’s easy to lose objectivity in this type of discussion, but the list of the three contenders makes some sense. Spanish football is enjoying a certain supremacy at the moment and this list fits in with that reality.

Do you have your own favourite among that trio?

For me, they all deserve the Ballon d’Or. Xavi has redefined the position of midfield anchorman and taken that role forward. He’s Barcelona’s jack of all trades: he moves the ball forward from deep, organises attacks, scores goals and creates them. His talent is immense. As for Lionel Messi, he adds magic to Barcelona’s team work. He’s exceptional, a PlayStation player. That said, Cristiano Ronaldo would get my vote, and God knows how much I like the other two! But in a Real Madrid environment where things are maybe more complicated than they are at Barcelona, he boasts some impressive statistics. Despite dominating in England, he didn’t think twice about testing himself again by going to Madrid. He’s assumed his responsibilities perfectly and maybe has more of an ability to score with his head compared to the Argentinian. He’s just a tad out in front, but I’m still waiting for both of them to finally make full use of their abilities with their national teams.

In total, you spent six years in England and just one in Spain. Why did you experience less success in Spain than elsewhere?

I arrived at Barcelona at perhaps the worst possible moment in the last 20 years (laughs). I laugh about it now, but I found it less funny at the time. I’m not bitter, though. We had a squad that was coming to the end of an era. Rivaldo, Pep Guardiola, and the De Boer brothers were fantastic players, but they were on their way down, as was I. That explains what happened.

Barcelona had an impressive contingent of players in the initial list of 23 candidates for the 2011 FIFA Ballon d’Or and now boast two in the shortlist. Are they the best club in the world?

They’re the team that keeps winning everything, anyway. They’re the club that sums up modern football perfectly at the moment. Plenty of people are growing tired of watching them knock the ball around, but their players have given new life to terms like ‘pressing the opposition’, ‘winning the ball back’ and ‘possession’. For me, this Barça team right now are what football is all about. They’re one of those rare sides who manage to raise football to its highest possible level, like Brazil in 1970.

Source: www.fifa.com; Image credit: Getty Images