MX23RW : Monday, November 12 18:44:35

Interview: Guillem Balague talks music and Cristiano Ronaldo

Sports Mole catches up with Spanish journalist Guillem Balague to discuss his love of music, as well as a potential return to Manchester United for Cristiano Ronaldo.

Guillem Balague is one of today's best-known football journalists, who has also earned wide acclaim for recent books that he has written about Barcelona star Lionel Messi and Bayern Munich head coach Pep Guardiola.

However, the Spaniard also has another major passion - music. This evening, two bands will be performing at The Cavern in Liverpool some songs that have been written by the reporter at an event designed to combine football and music.

Sports Mole recently caught up with Balague to discuss his hopes for tonight, as well as the future of Real Madrid talisman Cristiano Ronaldo.

You have done numerous events touring with your books about Lionel Messi and Pep Guardiola, but the event in Liverpool is different, isn't it? There will be some songs involved that you have written, is that right?

"It's giving a chance to two very good bands that I have written two EPs with and it will give people a great opportunity to listen to them. It's an experiment to see if you can put together music and football chat, which will be with Gaizka Mendieta, who will be DJing at the end of the night. We are all very nervous because it's completely out of our comfort zone, but it's also very exciting."

What convinced you to give song-writing a go?

"Writing is writing, really. Writing an article or writing a script for Sky Sports, I just love it. Sometimes when you are on a plane for a couple of hours, all you can write is 10 lines, which can become the idea for song, but also perhaps a chapter for a book.

"I just put it out on Twitter, asking if anyone would be prepared to put some music to my lyrics. I got plenty of people involved initially, but eventually two were very keen. They are extremely talented, so why not give it a go?"

Can you give some details on the two bands? How did they take to your lyrics?

"There has been two different processes. King and Scholes took my lyrics and have put together some folk music that goes with it, they took every single word of it.

"Best Boy Grip are more experienced and have a different background - they recently played with an orchestra and have links to opera, but he also does pop music. He got my lyrics and destroyed them! He took some lines, asked for more and then we put it together like that."

Have you always had a strong passion for music?

"I don't know anybody that doesn't have a passion for music - it's omnipresent. Spain is a noisy country, there is always something going on, be it someone shouting or just music in the background."

Spanish journalist Guillem Balague poses for a photograph, taken by John Quintero.© John Quintero

The event is being held at the famous Cavern, where The Beatles played some of their early sets. As a lover of music, does the venue make things extra special?

"I come to Liverpool very often. I've got a flat there and I lived there for 10 years. When we came up with the idea of this event, we thought we would try The Cavern and were given the go-ahead. Every time that I have come to Liverpool with an event it has sold out and people seem to want to listen to us. The link with The Beatles is amazing. I'm bringing my parents so that they can see it because it's such an historical place for music."

Liverpool is a city that is renowned for both its football teams and bands. Can the two actually be married together, though?

"I think it's something that does work well together in the city and the response I have had so far seems to suggest that it is true. Nothing like this has been done before, so it really is a bit of an experiment, which will bring a couple of bands together mixed with some football chat. It will also provide people with the opportunity to see a different side of such a good footballer like Mendieta."

How is Gaizaka feeling? This is obviously a little out of his comfort zone.

"He is a little bit nervous, but he has done it a few times, but not at a venue like The Cavern. He is bringing a friend, so there will be two of them DJing."

Following on from your books about Lionel Messi and Pep Guardiola, you've been commissioned to write a book about Cristiano Ronaldo. If not already, when does that project get underway?

"I spent 10 days in Portugal and Madeira recently, so it has started. I have around four more months to talk to people and then about five months to put it all together, so hopefully by the beginning of next summer it should be finished.

"There have been a few books written about Ronaldo, but I'm going for a different angle. Again, it is another experiment of sorts. It's a little bit complicated to explain, but it will be like a biography."

Will it be similar to the book about Messi in that it will tell his life story with major contributions from them that know him best?

"Sort of. Messi's did have a biography approach, but remember there was chapter full of quotes, like everybody was sitting around a table talking to each other about him. There was also a play in the middle of it.

"Whereas, the book I wrote about Guardiola, it was different. That was about leadership and the emotions of football. I like to surprise the reader, but you will get the biography of Ronaldo, just from a different angle.

"It will include what he means to Portugal and what it means coming from Madeira, which is one of the most fascinating things. People that have left Madeira, a lot of them have set up big companies, businesses or are big lawyers. They seem to be fighters and I think you understand a lot about them when you learn where Cristiano comes from."

A frustrated Cristiano Ronaldo sits on the pitch during Real Madrid's encounter with Cordoba on August 25, 2014© Getty Images

With so much having already been written about Ronaldo, how difficult it will be to find the "different angle" that you talk of?

"In my profession, I have read all of the books and all of the articles and I'm tired with certain things and cliches. I want to go a little bit deeper and explain things from a different point of view.

"You have to understand why he gets upset with his own people. Why people do not always praise him and why does he come across as arrogant when people close to him say that he is a different person. And also why he is so generous to his people, as well as needing plenty of people around him. His relationship with his mum is interesting and what he was like with his dad before he passed away.

"A lot of this is ignored because people only talk about the records and the goals. They will be mentioned [in my book], but I am more interested about the person."

You recently revealed that Ronaldo is keen on a move back to Manchester United. Just how open is he regarding a return to Old Trafford?

"I am convinced that he wants to come. I know that he wants to come and how much Manchester United want him. But, there is a third party, which is Real Madrid and they have the power over the timing, which is as much as I can say."

Is it a case of him being unhappy at Madrid, or a strong desire to rejoin United. Or maybe both?

"I do not believe that he is unhappy at Real Madrid because he is realising a lot of his dreams by being there. However, it is a club where sometimes players do feel what they are doing is a job. A lot of the time they want to recover the feeling of being a kid and playing the game and at Man United he had that.

"He also realises that. It was a wonderful era for him. He was growing and everybody loved him, not at first, but eventually they did. That was some time ago, though. He is going to come to a different Premier League and a different Man United so it will be fascinating to see it all take place."

Is it true that he was particularly dismayed by the sales of Angel di Maria and Xabi Alonso this summer?

"Who can be happy when two players that helped the club win the Champions League are sold? A lot of people are throwing stones towards [president] Florentino Perez. What needs to be understood is that Xabi Alonso wanted to go and that Madrid did not want to sell him.

"Di Maria was going to be a very expensive substitute in the way that they operate with James Rodriguez coming in. So, from a financial point of view you can justify it. Was Cristiano happy? He was not happy with Mesut Ozil leaving either last summer, but Ozil left and they won the Champions League!"

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Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring during the Spanish league football match Real Madrid CF vs Club Atletico de Madrid on September 13, 2014
Read Next:
Ronaldo to leave Real Madrid?

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