Frenkie de Jong spoke exclusively to SPORT from Barcelona's training camp in Germany as he prepares for his third season at the club. He hopes it will be the year he finally starts to win big trophies with the club after pocketing the Copa del Rey last term.
Q: How are the legs?
A: I feel really good at the moment. We're preparing for La Liga and I think we're growing every day and each week.
This is your third year at Barça. How have you grown?
It's difficult to say where I have improved, but I think I have grown a lot as a person and a player. And I want to keep on growing.
And your importance in the dressing room has also grown.
I don't know, I'm still doing the same as I did when I arrived. I am the same person, I am not going to change much in that sense.
What does it tell you that you're among the highest valued players by Transfermarkt?
It means nothing for me, what matters is what you show on the pitch. For me all that doesn't mean anything.
At Barça you've lacked trophies, what's the team lacking in that regard?
I think we have improved the squad for this season, we're growing as a team, it's the second year with the coach and things usually improve in the second season. I think this year we will have opportunities to fight for and win big trophies.
I suppose that's what you most want.
Of course, like everyone.
The Copa helped the team grow?
I think the atmosphere is very good now. There is a lot of quality, the youngsters have talent and the squad is very strong this year. We're going to fight for everything.
There's a squad to compete until the end?
Because of the mix of youth and experience?
That mix is very important, we have people with a lot of experience and quality, young players with a lot of talent and a desire to show it.
Would you dare to say where the team will finish the season?
It's difficult to know, but we have a really good squad this year and we will fight for everything.
You seem optimistic.
Yes, you always have to be optimistic. Barça fans can be optimistic.
What's Koeman asked from you for this season?
My relationship with the coach is very good, I know him from the national team and he asks me to take responsibility and to improve every year. Nothing else.
That's natural for you.
Yes, I try to play like I have done my entire life. Of course I want to improve, but my style of football is still the same.
It was a relief that Koeman stayed?
I am very happy about that, yes.
You have to give projects time.
Projects improve when there's more time, yes.
By the way, your pal Memphis played brilliantly against Stuttgart.
For me, Memphis is a player with a lot of quality, he can give us a lot because he can run at players, he scored goals, sets goals up, works for the team. I think he improves the squad.
And he has you helping with his integration.
Memphis is good with the group and the group are good with him. He's integrating well. In addition, it's easy when you play well, that helps a lot.
And with your assist for his goal at the weekend...
I hope I can give him a lot this season. He has quality and I hope he shows it.
But he has to stop those nutmegs in training on you!
(Laughs) That can happen, it was a little bit of bad luck.
You will return the favour.
Yes, I imagine so!
It's as is he's been at Barça for three years.
I think he will adapt quickly, he's a quality player. He's going to be good.
Are you surprised by the confidence of the youngsters? Did you know any?
I know Nico a little because I saw him play a few games for the B team, but it's true that all the youngsters have a lot of quality.
Gavi, just 16, is having a great preseason.
When you have quality, you can play in every team. Of course at that age you're still improving, growing, but they have a lot of quality and I see them playing in the first team already.