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A product of the youth system at Ajax and a Barça player between 1998 and 2004 in which time he scored 145 goals in 308 matches, 43 year old Dutchman Patrick Kluivert has returned to FC Barcelona after spells as coach and technical director at various clubs and he explains to the Club's official media how his first few months have been as the new director of youth football.
How have the last few months been at FC Barcelona?
Well, really well. When you come in somewhere that is already successful, it's important to get to know the people on the inside, the way of working and that is what I have done with every department. First, to hear how things are going and then to get to work.
Why did you choose Barça?
Really easy. Because I know the club. I was here for six years as a player and I have a feeling for the Club and the fans. Furthermore, my son plays here. I feel I can bring a lot of things to la Masia and I did not have to think that much about accepting the Club's offer.
I know the club. I was here for six years as a player and I have a feeling for the Club and the fans.“ Patrick Kluivert
One of the emerging talents from the youth set up is Ansu Fati, Carles Pérez as well...how important is it for the Club for players like that to appear?
It's really important for players like that to come through. If a player can demonstrate his quality, as in the case of Ansu and Carles Pérez, no matter how young they are, it's good for them to have minutes with the first team and that they can show their worth.
How do you manage players who go from the U19s to the first team, virtually skipping Barça B, as is the case of Ansu Fati, to keep their feet on the ground?
You have to looks after them in cases like this. Fortunately, Ansu is a lad who sees things as they are and has his feet on the ground. I have spoken a lot with him and he is only too aware of his situation. Our job is to make sure he does not stray from the path and that he is clear about his role at all times. Ansu is a player who know what he wants and what he can do and he will get used to playing more games with the first team.
How important is it for all the teams to play in the same way with the same system?
Its essential. When the players move up the categories and teams it is important for them to follow the same footballing philosophy. It's obvious that, as they grow, they develop their game and perfect their talent but within the same way of playing. We have to respect the Cruyff philosophy, the Club's values and we are here to protect all that. We have one of the best footballing schools and for that reason the coaches and players have to pull in the same direction.
From La Masia many important players have appeared over the years such as Valdés, Puyol, Sergio, Piqué, Messi, Xavi, Iniesta...what can we do so they keep coming?
It's obvious that the quality of the players is not the same every year. We have a lot of quality at La Masia but the talent cannot appear all at once. There are those who need to spend time away and come back. Our objective is to have the best so the highest number possible can reach the first team. It's essential for the first team to have home grown young players. Myself and those responsible for youth football have to search for the diamonds and work with them. We have to give everyone the same chance to be a success.
This summer De Jong has been signed, a talent from Ajax. Is it important to follow foreign talent that could fit in with Barça's philosophy?
Ajax has the same style of play as Barça and so we are aware of those talents. For him it is not so difficult to adapt. Nevertheless, playing at Ajax is not the same as playing at Camp Nou in front of 100,000 people. He is playing really well because he is playing in his position, he is really talented and he is surrounded by the best. He looks like he has played at Barça all his life.
EMiniestadi is being consigned to history and now we have the Estadi Johan Cruyff. What do you think of the new ground?
The Estadi Johan Cruyff is really nice. For the U19s and for Barça B and Barça Women it is important to have a stadium next to La Masia. The players are starting to get used to it and it is also important fr the younger teams to go and see games to see what it is like to play there and dream of playing there and later Camp Nou.
What advice would you give to younger players?
It is really important for young players not to think that because they are at Barça, the job is done. It is very important to work hard, follow your dream, compete and learn from your coaches. Talent is important but it is not everything, you have work every day and push yourself to the limit. If everything goes well, the chance to play for the first team will come. That is our job.
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