Arturo Vidal: "There are a lot similar midfielders here but I'm different"

The Chilean spoke to SPORT about his role at FC Barcelona and his future plans in football

Arturo Vidal habló en exclusiva con SPORT | Marta Fernández

Arturo Vidal appears less and less in the media. At the age of 32, he's learnt to take a step back from the spotlight and that includes with his press commitments. However, when he does talk, there's plenty who want to listen to his thoughts and feelings.

The Chilean international sat down with SPORT to talk about the current situation at Barça and his future at the club.

Let's start with the last week at Barça. You began the season on the outside, only appearing for a few minutes, and then you've revolutionised the side in two key matches against Inter and Sevilla?

You have to be prepared. When you're at the best team in the world, you're obligated to be ready, alert when an opportunity presents itself. You have to go out and help the team. That's what happened to me.

You make it sound so easy...

The start of the season was quite difficult but I remained calm. I trained as hard as I could and was more than ready to do what I had to in those last two matches.

Pie de foto | AUTOR FOTO

Do you believe you weren't playing simply because you weren't at peak fitness?

I don't know what happened. Only the coach knows for sure as he's the one who makes the decisions. It's clear that I arrived late to preseason, alongside Arthur, as we were involved in the Copa America. From that moment we worked as hard as possible to get fit again. I didn't feature in my national team's last few friendlies because I wasn't as fit as my teammates. Everything else comes down to the coach and who he decides should play.

"There are a lot similar footballers who play in midfield here but I'm different. I need to attack, defend and cover a lot of distance"

It all changed with the Inter match. We saw the best version of Arturo Vidal and produced the comeback...

I'm not sure if I was the person who changed the match but I felt really comfortable out there. When I walked onto the pitch I only thought about giving my all and helping the team with what they needed. In the end, we won.

That effort was recognised by your teammates. Everyone agreed the team needed Arturo Vidal...

Receiving praise is always nice. That's important for me, it made me feel proud to hear them say that. Even more when Leo, who is number one and the captain of the team, says it. I hope to keep giving my best for the team and we keep winning; growing.

But there's no doubt the first few weeks of the season at Barça caused plenty of doubts. The team suffered against Dortmund, Inter were the best team in the first half and Sevilla missed a host of chances in the first 45 minutes...

Well, that's complicated (to explain).

And on top of that we can add Barça's issues on the road. Maybe the team needed an injection of effort, fight and speed in the middle of the park? Someone like you?

Yeah, it's clear that most of the time very similar styles of footballers are selected. I see it something like that. But what I bring, my style of play, it's different to them. I have to attack, defend, cover a lot of ground and always play to my limit.

"I'm not here so I can change my team every time the transfer market opens"

Do you think that's why the fans have shown you so much love - because you're different?

I've got different qualities to Arthur, Busquets, de Jong... Ivan is perhaps the closest to the role I play but we're also different.

Sigamos con los problemas del equipo. ¿Usted cree que al Barça le ha faltado llegada, más recursos desde la segunda línea para generar peligro a los rivales?

Eso también se ha notado porque los equipos, acá en España, o donde juguemos se meten muy atrás con el Barcelona. Entonces tres jugadores para ocho defensas es muy difícil. Cuando juego yo puedo atacar, meterme entre líneas, ayudar a que los delanteros encuentren más espacios y eso ayuda mucho a Leo, a Luis, a Griezmann, a Dembélé o a quien juegue.

It's worth noting that Valverde has made more changes to the team than ever before...

The coach has tried out a lot of players and he now knows what the team needs to work. Either way, it's better that our struggles are at the start of the season rather than at the end of it. Remember how well we started last season and then how it ended. We hope to keep improving and finish the season with three titles.

Pie de foto | AUTOR FOTO

"My obsession is the Champions League. I dream about being involved in the final in Istanbul"

Since the end of last season - and in particular this summer - there's been talk of you negotiating moves to Juventus and Inter Milan. There have also been suggestions you could end up in China... 

I'm happy. I came here to be successful and help the team complete it's objectives of winning trophies. I came here to be an important member of the squad as I have at every other team in my career. I'm not here just to change clubs every time the transfer window opens.

You seem to have things quite clear...

If the coach or the team tells me to leave.. I'll gladly do that. I don't mind. But I believe I still have a lot more to give here and I want to achieve more things. I still need to lift the Champions League... 

Winning the Champions League is something you've said since you signed for Barça...

I want everything. Barcelona is a team that needs to win the Champions League, win the Copa del Rey and retain the league. I know it's going to be difficult but we have the players to achieve that. It's a very hungry squad that wants to win everything.

The treble sounds nice but your obsession is the Champions League...

Yes. I've said that since the first day. It's been on my mind. I dream about that cup. I dream about being in the final in Istanbul. We're prepared for that. The team knows this could be our year. 

Any particular team you'd like to face in that dream final? 

I don't care about the opponent. If it's a Champions League final, I don't care who we face. First we need to put in the hard work and later, once we're there, we have to win. I'm ready for whatever the coach decides. If he feels he needs me and believes I'm important for the team, I'm happy to be here in Barcelona.

In two weeks there's another El Clasico against Real Madrid...

Real Madrid are always very strong. They've got good players and have bought some good players too. They are our direct rivals. In saying that, it's important that we keep improving.



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