Saviola: If I'd thought about Barcelona's history, I'd never have left the dressing room

By Joe Wright 26 December 2016
Saviola: If I'd thought about Barcelona's history, I'd never have left the dressing room

Javier Saviola says he might not have been brave enough to leave the dressing room had he ever thought about the pressure of playing for Barcelona.

At only 19 years old, Saviola transferred to Barca from River Plate in 2001 for a reported €18million, going on to produce a superb debut campaign, scoring 21 times in all competitions.

The Argentine continued to enjoy a strong record in front of goal but found first-team opportunities limited and was loaned to Monaco and Sevilla before leaving for Real Madrid in 2007.

Now 35, Saviola has revealed he was only able to enjoy his career in Catalonia because he did not allow himself to become distracted by thoughts of his price tag or the illustrious history of the club.

"Because I was so young, I don't think I ever realised about the place I was going," he told Omnisport.

"I never became aware that I was at such a big club and the amount of money that had been paid for me, nor that I was about to start playing at a fully crowded Camp Nou.

"I benefited from the fact that I never internalised all of this. Maybe if I'd thought about the money that was paid, or the packed stadium, or that I was part of a club with such a history, then I wouldn't have left the dressing room!"

Saviola's arrival coincided with Madrid breaking the world transfer record to sign Zinedine Zidane from Juventus in a deal reportedly worth close to €77m.

But the striker denies having felt any extra pressure to perform in LaLiga following the France star's move.

"It wasn't extra pressure because I didn't see myself as being close to Zidane," he said.

"I was 19 years old when I had just arrived in Europe. I knew that this kind of comparison came from the press, rather than because of my arrival. That's why I think that I was taking the pressure off myself. I didn't embrace certain things."

Saviola struggled to make an impact at Madrid and left for Benfica after making only 28 appearances across two seasons.

A nomadic final few years in Europe, in which he had spells with Malaga, Olympiacos and Verona, came to an end when he returned to River in 2015.

Saviola is now looking to further his coaching aspirations in 2017, having retired this year.

"I would like to continue being part of football," he said. "I will start the coaching staff course in January. It's a goal, a future that I have put forward to myself.

"If I have taken wrong decisions during my career, I have no regrets. I have always tried to make sure that my decisions haven't hurt anyone. I only looked for the best for my future.

"I always say that football gave me more than I expected or could have imagined. I have played in so many teams, such prestigious teams with such history, with so many great players."

"I feel part of them. It was wonderful."

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