’A former Barcelona, Red Bull Salzburg and Spain U21 Striker, Jonathan Soriano has led an interesting life. One of Europe’s most underrated strikers, his goal scoring record would rival that of Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Fresh from his recent move to Asia, Jonathan tells us how he really feels about that race for the European Golden Boot and what’s in store for the next stage of his career.’
ON WORKING UNDER LUIS ENRIQUE
Working under Luis (current Spain manager) at Barcelona was a great experience. As a coach, he has such an empowering presence and personality, and definitely had the biggest impact on me as a player, re-discovering football for me. We had a really talented, driven group of players and achieved great things.
THE BEST PLAYERS I’VE PLAYED WITH
It has to be Thiago Alcántara. At the time he was 18 and already a machine. Although defender-wise, Sergio Ramos. He’s undeniably the best in the world and consistently plays such a good game on the pitch.
ON BARCELONA B EARNING A PROMOTION PLAY-OFF IN SEGUNDA DIVISION, BUT NOT BEING ABLE TO TAKE THE PROMOTION
We knew the situation before we played, but it was still tough. Our goal was to stay as high as possible; the situation being how it was we were happy being 3rd in Segunda.
ON MOVING TO AUSTRIA WITH RED BULL SALZBURG
Red Bull is a very progressive company across a lot of sports (snowboarding, motor racing, skiing, extreme racing), but what really excited me was their football project. As a player, they really developed me and helped me to improve. They’ve done the same for a lot of fantastic young players like Sadio Mane, Naby Keita, Kevin Kampl and many more. The main reason they’re so good at it is that they employ great scouts and then work hard to improve each player’s talents, not only nurturing their strengths, but also their weaknesses as individuals and as a team. They don’t just hone in on who’s ready now and improve what they have. They look for the possibilities, the hidden gems and that makes them special. We’ve seen it in the past and we’ll see it in the future.
‘I love English football. I’ve never played for an English club, but I like how frequently they play matches and the atmosphere of the grounds is fantastic.’
ON MISSING OUT ON THE EUROPEAN GOLDEN BOOT DUE TO ‘POLITICS’
If all leagues had the same value when competing for the European Golden Boot, things might have been different. My scoring record was strong enough to compete with some incredible international players like Messi and Ronaldo, but my league, the Austrian Bundesliga, didn’t count. I understand that the Austrian League isn’t at the level of Spain, England, Germany etc., but people who understand football know that scoring goals is not easy anywhere, regardless of league.
ON CHINESE FOOTBALL
Playing in China is a whole new experience. The language is very different, but we have translators that make things much easier for us. The players, like Bakambu and Jonathan Viera are really challenging and changing things there, so it’s an exciting time to be in football and see that evolution first-hand.
ON THE FUTURE
I don’t know if I’ll return to Europe yet. My contract with Beijing Sinobo Guoan F.C. ends in December so I’m waiting to hear. The next few months will decide, but it will definitely involve playing football. When I retire, I can see myself doing something football related, maybe coaching or punditry, but that’s a long way away. I’m very happy where I am now and there’s so much more I want to achieve.