Mathieu blasts Barca duo over exit

LISBON • Jeremy Mathieu would love to prove a point to Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and sporting director Robert Fernandez when he lines up for Sporting Lisbon against his former club.

The 33-year-old French defender, who spent three seasons at the Camp Nou, left on a free transfer this summer. But he is upset over the way his exit was handled.

Asked by Spanish sports daily Marca whether he would celebrate a goal against the the Spanish club today, he said: "I have a lot of respect for my former team-mates and the fans.

"If I celebrate, it will be because of Bartomeu and Fernandez, because the way they treated me made things really difficult.

"It was just those two.

"But that's football, and I'm happy now.

"I'm not bothered any more."

The visitors will not only have to contend with Mathieu, but also a Sporting side who have made an impressive start to the season.

Jorge Jesus' team, who are second in their domestic league and trail rivals Porto by two points, are unbeaten in all matches this season, according to Uefa.com.

They dropped their first two points at Moreirense at the weekend, ending a six-game winning streak that included a 3-2 success at Olympiakos in their Champions League Group D opener.

But Ernesto Valverde's Barcelona are in equally fine form despite the world-record €222 million (S$355 million) sale of Neymar and a long-term injury to his replacement Ousmane Dembele.

Lionel Messi and Co have won all their seven matches since a pair of Spanish Super Cup defeats by Real Madrid last month.

They top the Spanish league with a 100 per cent record and are seven points clear of arch-rivals Real Madrid after just six games.

Messi, especially, is a man reborn.

He already has nine goals in just six league matches. He also netted a double in a brilliant 3-0 win over Italian giants Juventus in their opening Champions League match.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 27, 2017, with the headline 'Mathieu blasts Barca duo over exit'. Print Edition | Subscribe