Eric Abidal spoke exclusively to SPORT about a range of issues surrounding Barcelona in the current day. Among other issues, the sporting director spoke about the summer signings.
Tell us about your vision for De Jong.
Ajax's philosophy is similar to Barça's and that helps. He's a player that adds a lot in the middle of the pitch, that can play in many positions, that understands the game well. He's a good passer and he helps the coach a lot. The most important thing is that he is a player with ambition. He's a player that's come here because he wants to win important trophies. Frenkie is an example of the type of player this club must look for. He's come to a foreign country with the hunger to win everything.
His signing was complicated.
There was a good fight (for his signature) between clubs because we're talking about a top player. It was not easy, but we managed it. We travelled (to Amsterdam) and we explained the project we had so that he could understand what Barça is. And Frenkie understood.
I don't know if he started badly. If we're talking about performances, Barça is not Real Betis. Barça play position-based football and he has to understand and adapt. Play with and without the ball. He's a player with a lot of potential. He could be one of the best left-backs in the world. I always tell him that he must work hard and be aware of the (style of) play. He's going to get better, for sure. It's always difficult to get started at Barça.
Neto in goal...
In Barça you need top goalkeepers and there's no first or second (choice). The two goalkeepers we have must be first (choice) and ready to play. There were doubts about his signing and the press spoke about it a lot, but in preseason he showed what he can do. There is competition in goal and that helps both goalkeepers. (Japser) Cillessen wanted to play and communicated that to us. He was happy, but he wanted to leave to have more minutes and we understood. We spoke and it helped that Neto could come. We have a top goalkeeper.-