Last week Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy visited the AS newsroom. The visit was part of our 50th anniversary which we celebrated last December. It was an absolute pleasure to welcome Mister Rajoy to our offices and we spent a few hours discussing sport in a relaxed manner with colleagues as we are all ultimately huge sports fans in general. We decided to release the interview today, one day prior to Real Madrid's crucial first leg Champions League tie against PSG in the knowledge that Rajoy is a long-term fan of the Bernabeu outfit and has been a season ticket holder at the club for over thirty years.
Frank and open
We discussed many matters as we have done with the visits of the likes of other political figures such as Pedro Sánchez, Pablo Iglesias, Íñigo Errejón, Méndez de Vigo, Manuela Carmena, Luis de Guindos, Albert Rivera but with the solid understanding that only matters of a sporting nature would feature in our publication. We were taken a back on how candid Rajoy was and to date he was possibly the most frank politician we have had the pleasure of spending time with. Our discussion took in everything from the Tour de France, the successful reign of "Txingurri" Valverde at Barcelona and the PM offered his ideal XI for Spain as the countdown begins in earnest towards Russia 2018.
Naymar wearing the white Madrid shirt...
Talking about sport is always a wonderful experience and Rajoy was happy to accept the challenge of naming his ideal starting line-up for Spain's Sochi opener against Portugal in June and I was surprised to see his inclusion of Manchester United's Juan Mata in his team. The Prime Minister was also firm in his conviction that he wasn't keen on a possible arrival of Neymar at the Santiago Bernabeu next summer. “Not so long ago Bale, Benzema and Cristiano were deemed as being the best in the business and now all of a sudden they are under the spotlight”, he calmly observed. Only yesterday a Madrid supporting friend of mine commented that in the past week alone we've seen the Brazilian celebrating his birthday with a massive party and posing in the snow in just his underpants....all this on the eve of a massive Champions League tie...can you imagine Benzema pulling off such a stunt? This observation reminded me of Rajoy's vision on a potential arrival of the striker at the Bernabeu.