Víctor Martí |
Barcelona (EFE).- The Uruguayan defender Ronald Araujo (Rivera, 1999) has emerged as one of the leaders of Xavi Hernández’s Barcelona, the team with the fewest goals in LaLiga, a role that, as he explains in an interview with EFE, accepts naturally within a group of players that, in his opinion, is a family.
The Uruguayan reviews the good moment he is going through after overcoming the injury that prevented him from making his World Cup debut in Qatar, admits that not winning LaLiga would mean “enormous sadness” and delves into his personality, both on and off the pitch.
In the short term, Araujo only thinks about lifting a great title with Barça this season, with LaLiga as the main objective. The Catalan team is the leader with an advantage of 8 points with respect to its closest rival, Real Madrid.
“Not winning LaLiga would be a tremendous sadness, because the team is very good, because it is up to us to win it after so many years. With the team we have, I think we have to do it, ”he says.
Strengthened after his injury
Recovered from the avulsion of the adductor longus tendon of the right thigh that forced him to undergo surgery last September, Araujo says he is in a good moment, in part, due to all the work he did while he was in the dry dock.
“The injury helped me a lot, especially to work the time I was out, analyze a lot, see the mistakes. I watched a lot of videos, physically I worked on many aspects that, when you’re competing, maybe you don’t work. The idea was to get back into the rhythm of the team, which is difficult when you are out for three months ”, he reveals.
The injury has not stopped his progression. At 23, Araujo is a mainstay for Xavi Hernández, one of the key people who, according to the footballer, explain his good performance.
“With the arrival of Xavi I learned a lot more because he gave us back the Barça philosophy, which had been lost in recent years. I am the one who learned the most, but the team changed and it is being seen in the results, ”he reflects.
In this sense, he considers that the Catalan coach and his coaching staff are responsible for Barça being the least thrashed team in the major European leagues.
“The fruit of the work is being seen. Since Xavi arrived, we have been growing. She implemented all the things he wanted. In addition, we were able to have a good preseason and both technically and tactically we learned a lot defensively. Reinforcements arrived in defense and that adds up a lot, ”he highlights.
To this is added the good chemistry between his teammates behind. Araujo considers that among all the defenders they have “a healthy rivalry”, regardless of the fact that in the last days he himself, Jules Koundé, Andreas Christensen and Alejandro Balde enjoy more prominence.
And he specifies: “It is showing on the field that we are a family, and we are all here to give our best.”
All in all, Araujo does not shy away from his role as leader, a word that Xavi has repeated repeatedly to define him. “Yes, I consider myself (a leader) because of my character, because of who I am, I like that the team is in good shape, I like to know how my teammates are, because I want them all to be well. On the pitch, I talk all the time because it’s the way to stay focused. I know that this helps my colleagues a lot, ”he argues.
Among his references, Araujo mentions the former Barça captain Carles Puyol, of whom he still watches videos of his time as a player and who he describes as an “inspiration” for him.
And, like the Barca legend, the Uruguayan also enjoys defending: “That’s why when I do a defensive action I celebrate it, because I live it that way.”
But Araujo’s ambition is to continue growing at Barça, which has not yet been able to register him in LaLiga with the contract he signed last summer until 2026 due to the difficulties the entity is having in complying with the ‘Financial Fair Play’ rules.
However, Rivera’s defender says he is not worried about this matter: “I am happy, happy to be at Barcelona, I always said it and I showed it with the renewal. I wanted to stay here, despite the many offers I had. I’m quiet. The club will take care of that.”
religious and family
Beyond the pitches, the Uruguayan international defines himself as a “very charismatic and familiar” person who likes to be at home, whether it’s watching football matches, sharing barbecue with his family or taking care of his daughter.
“I watch a lot of football, even Uruguayan, from almost all leagues, but having a little daughter I have to spend time with my family,” he reveals.
Religion also plays an important role in his life – “for me, God is everything,” he says – and points out that his parents were “the basis” for him to become a professional footballer.
“My parents have always been motivating me since I was little, taking me to training. I never had any pressure, it was all to play sports, so as not to walk in the street with bad influences. They gave me everything, they worked to buy me soccer shoes and they were always helping me ”, he recalls.
And thanks to his parents and their efforts, Araujo has become one of the present and future central defenders of world football, something he is achieving with the following maxim: “I work every day to try to be the best.”