La Liga president Javier Tebas has told ESPN he misses Jose Mourinho and would love to see the Portuguese coach, along with Paris Saint-Germain’s Lionel Messi, back in the Spanish league.
Mourinho, in charge of the Italian side AS Roma, spent three years as Real Madrid manager between 2010 and 2013 but has not returned to LaLiga since.
Messi, meanwhile, left Barcelona for PSG on a free transfer last summer after 20 years at Camp Nou because the Catalan club could not afford to renew his contract.
“I have always liked Mourinho,” Tebas said in an interview with ESPN show Jorge Ramos Y Su Banda, when asked which coach he would bring to the Primera Division to help boost the quality of the league.
“I don’t know if it is because of the way he coaches or because of the spice he brings to football. You have fun. It is also important to see football so passionately, I like that.
There are lots of things he says that I don’t agree with, but I like that sass he has. I like him. I miss Mourinho. I’m not saying as a coach, but the way he really complements the football in the Spanish league.”
LaLiga’s financial regulations prevented Barca from keeping Messi last summer after his contract expired.
Tebas was adamant at the time that he would not make exceptions for the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner and that the league was bigger than any individual, but he would still like to see him back at Barca one day.
“Messi,” the La Liga chief said when asked, aside from Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland, which player he would like to see in La Liga.
“I think Messi has two or three years left at a really good level. Messi at 80% of what we have seen is still at the top level, so if I could see Messi back in Spain, I would be delighted.
“I think Messi would return to Barcelona if he came back to Spain on very different economic terms, so it would not be, in inverted commas, such a ‘burden’ [on Barca’s finances].
“I think the marriage between Messi and Barcelona was perfect and I think a reconciliation would generate significant financial synergies for both parties. I think it would be good on an economic level. On a sporting level, I have no idea. At the end of the day, I can’t analyse that side of things or the dressing room.”
Messi has endured a difficult first season in France. He has scored just twice in the league and was jeered by PSG fans after their recent Champions League elimination. Despite that, he has a year to run on his contract and is unlikely to leave PSG this summer.
The same is not true for Mbappe, who is out of contract in the summer and expected to join Real Madrid on a free transfer.
“I think Mbappe is among the best players in the world, among the top two or three,” Tebas said. “He would bring a lot to La Liga, he would help us a lot.
“What we must do is know how to take advantage of the possible arrival of Mbappe to keep growing the league. Everyone would want Mbappe in their division and he would be, without any doubt, a great addition to La Liga.
Madrid, in addition to Mbappe, also want to sign Haaland, who is also a target for Barca and Manchester City.
Tebas played down the idea of Madrid landing both Mbappe and Haaland being bad for the league, using former Chelsea forward Eden Hazard, who joined Madrid for a fee rising to €160 million, as an example of when big signings go wrong.
“Yes, they can,” Tebas added when asked if Madrid could afford Mbappe and Haaland. “Madrid have been well managed financially and are capable of reforming the stadium and signing them both.
“But nothing is a given. If it was, with the team PSG had, they shouldn’t have been knocked out of the Champions League. And they didn’t even win the French league last season.
“I don’t see it as a problem [for the league]. All teams have 25 players. The players have their own personal lives and can be better or worse each season. They said the same when Madrid signed Eden Hazard that Madrid with Hazard and everyone else they had [a great team] and would win everything… but he has not performed as expected.
“Footballers are not machines and nothing can be taken for granted. If the two of them do end up at Madrid, though, then it is welcome for LaLiga, too.”
While big signings can boost the league’s profile, Tebas is also exploring other ways to improve La Liga’s image around the world. He has previously tried to move a game to the United States, but he said it would be impossible to take the Clasico, Madrid against Barca, to America for a competitive league game.
“Very difficult,” he responded when asked if it could happen one day. “I think it is almost impossible because you have to think what the Clasico means to the fans that go to the stadiums in Spain.
“Well, what it means to everyone, but it can’t be moved from Spain to the United States. We have to be honest and the Clasico is a game that has to be played at the Santiago Bernabeu and Camp Nou.
“Whoever wants to see it has to come here or watch it on television. Other games are more move-able, but not the Clasico.”