Frenkie de Jong: "I want to be an important player for this Barça team"

The new FC Barcelona signing opened up about everything in an exclusive interview with SPORT

El crack culé, con ambición y ganas de ser importante en Barcelona | Marta Fernández

Jordi Gil

Were the first training sessions at FC Barcelona as you expected?

"I enjoy all the training sessions, on and off the field. The first few days have gone really well, as I expected."

When you arrived at Barcelona, did you feel shy or timid? 

"I know what you mean but I'm still learning Spanish so I need to learn Spanish quickly to adapt to the group. They are all helping me really well and I feel at home."

And when you're on the ball, you don't feel shy?

"No. It isn't good for a footballer to be shy. You have to show your quality on the pitch."

How would you define Frankie de Jong?

"On the field, I like to have the ball a lot. To play with the ball, to link up with the team, to dribble. Away from the pitch, I like to have fun with my teammates and just speak with them."

"Valverde is tactically very good"

Have you had the chance to talk with Ernesto Valverde? What's your (early) impression of him?

"I have a good impression of him. He's a coach that is tactically really good. He isn't very loud, he's 'tranquilo' (relaxed). He has a lot of experience in football and knows what he has to do."

Has he told you which position he'd like you to play in?

"We haven't talked about specifics yet. If I speak for myself, I think I can play in every position in the midfield. It doesn't matter which it is."

Valverde said you were a player for the future, but I suppose you see yourself very much in the present too...

"I hope so! Yes, I'm a player for the future as well but I hope I'm a player for now as well. Of course, I want to be a key player for Barça, a starting player. It isn't up to me but we'll see what happens."

"Busquets has spoken to and helped me a lot"

Which player has especially helped you in these days? 

"All the players are helping me a lot. If I have to name one, specifically, I'd have to say Busquets. He's helping me a lot to learn Spanish, telling me about the city and the club. Not only him, but all the guys are helping me."

Why were you so keen to wear the number 21 shirt? 

"It wouldn't be a problem if I had to wear another number but if it's possible, then 21 is special for me."

Why is it special?

"My grandfather's birthday was on the 21st of April and he passed away a year and a half ago. He was a big fan of me and my career. When I started playing professionally for Ajax I always wore '21'."

What do you think of the signing of Griezmann?

"I think we already knew he is an amazing player. He's one of the best strikers in the world and he's showing that so far. He's a good guy and amazing player and he's adapting really well."

"It would be stupid to still be sad about what happened at Anfield"

Is the dressing room still affected by the loss at Anfield or the Copa final defeat?

"I don't think they've forgotten what happened at Anfield but it would be stupid to still be sad about it. Of course, you are sad when you talk about it but it's similar to what happened with Ajax in the semi-final against Tottenham. But you have to move on and this season we want to win all the trophies available so we have to positive, focused and it wouldn't help us if we were still sad and crying (about those losses)."

Is the Champions League a special trophy for you and the team? 

"I can't talk for the guys in the team but of course they want to win it. For me as well it would be great to win the Champions League. Last season was me first in the Champions League and we got knocked out in the last second by Tottenham. I want to win it next season."

Nowadays at Barcelona they say it's a disaster if the team doesn't win the Champions League...

"There's a lot of pressure at Barcelona and it was similar at Ajax, domestically rather than in Europe. I think it's normal at a club like Barcelona to (want to) win everything. But I don't agree that not winning the Champions League means it's a disastrous season. We could have an amazing season and be a bit unlucky in the Champions League but of course, we want to win."

"I want us to play beautiful football next season"

You said you came here to be a starter but do you think it will be difficult to play ahead of experienced players such as Arturo Vidal and Rakitic?

"I think it's normal when you move to a club like Barcelona, one of the best teams in the world, that you have a lot of competition for your position. But as I said I have to show on the pitch, in training, in the games that I'm good enough to start and then it's up to the coach to decide."

You seem very confident. Are you not worried? 

"Of course, I'm not afraid otherwise I wouldn't have moved to Barcelona. I think all the players here have a lot of quality so everyone has to show what they can do and then the coach decides."

A lot of Barça fans are enthusiastic because they feel with you, the team will recover its essence, its style. Is that added pressure?

"It doesn't add more pressure. I think Barça have always played like that, even last season as well. I hope this season we can play beautiful football that the people who come to the stadium can enjoy. And, of course, that we can win all the trophies. That's my goal."


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