Jeremy Mathieu believes he was unfairly singled out for criticism at Barcelona and would love to prove a point to president Josep Maria Bartomeu and technical director Robert Fernandez when Sporting CP host the LaLiga leaders on Wednesday.
Mathieu moved to Lisbon during the close season after an underwhelming three-year stint at Camp Nou, during which time he announced his surprise retirement from international football.
The 33-year-old defender appears to have already made a more favourable impression at Sporting, netting a magnificent free-kick in the 2-0 home win over Tondela earlier this month.
If he nets again against Barca in the Champions League, he told Marca any celebration would be aimed in the direction of Bartomeu and Robert, whose reputations took a battering amid the fallout of Neymar’s world-record switch to Paris Saint-Germain.
“I don’t know [if I would celebrate],” he said. “I have a lot of respect for my former team-mates and the fans.
“If I celebrate it will be for Bartomeu and Robert Fernandez, because I think the way they treated me was very difficult for me.
“It was just the two of them. But that’s football and now I’m very happy. I do not care anymore.
“With respect to Barcelona itself, here I feel a bit like when I was in Valencia. It is a very familiar club and I was comfortable from day one.”
Mathieu was particularly stung by the criticism he received from Catalan newspaper Sport, claiming celebrated Barca defenders Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano were spared the level of scrutiny he endured after Barca’s Champions League exit at the hands of Juventus last season.
“The newspaper Sport, I’m a little f***** up with them because every time I played they always had something bad to say against me.
“Football is a team sport and when you lose it is never the fault of one, that is my opinion.
“I have seen the match against Juventus and everyone says that I was the problem. It is true that [on the first] goal I am one against one and do not tackle, stand off and then they make a pass.
“They could say ‘what does Mascherano or Pique do?’, but no. It is my opinion.”
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