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There's no place like home. Oriol Romeu has looked at ease during his first few days as a blaugrana, while still feeling the excitement and desire to take on the new challenge of pulling on the FC Barcelona jersey after 12 years away. He has taken his return in his stride, but what could be more pleasing than coming back to the Club where he developed as a player. The Catalan discusses his transfer to Barça, his main assets on the pitch, and his hopes for the coming season during an exclusive interview with the Club's media.
How would you sum up your return to FC Barcelona?
“Coming back to Barça is massive for me. Wearing this jersey means so much to me. The challenge now is to help the team have a great year, adapting to what the coach wants me to do as quickly as possible, and performing from day one”.
While you were performing well for Girona last season, did you imagine you could end up signing for Barça?
“No, to be honest. You don’t think about what might happen in the future because you are focusing on competing and performing your best during the season. However, last season in Girona, the entire squad performed to a very high level, so I felt very comfortable. That all led to me making this big move that means so much to me, really excites me and I see as a wonderful challenge”.
You’re returning to Barça after 12 years. Did you always want to come back once you’d left? What was it like leaving Barça at the time?
“Leaving Barça is tinged with sadness, because fulfilling the dream of playing with the first team seems further away. However, I was faced with new challenges, new dreams, and I had to "survive" or adapt to a different mindset, to a different culture, and even a different country. A footballer's career goes through twists and turns, you learn from different coaches, teammates, leagues, but nothing can compare to returning here after so many years. What's more, I think I am in good physical and mental shape at the moment, and I can’t wait to show that to help the team”.
You paid tribute to Sergio Busquets during your presentation. What can you learn from him?
“Many things, practically everything he did on the pitch. I admire his ability to always convey calm and balance to the team. And his consistency and high level of performance in every game, I can hardly recall Busquets having a bad game. He is a role model, he has always been a benchmark for those of us who like playing in the holding midfielder position. Coming back to the club and playing in that position as best as I can is a big challenge”.
Sergio Busquets is an example to follow“ Oriol Romeu
You’ll be lining up in midfield with an old acquaintance from the Premier League in Ilkay Gündoğan.
“Games against Manchester City were always tough to play. It was really hard to get the ball off them, and really hard to cause them problems in games. And Gündoğan was a very clever player, floating to receive the ball between the lines, and always looking for space towards the flanks, he was very elusive. I think it’s a great signing, and I am sure he will be straight into action and have a great year”.
You were one of the best ball winners in LaLiga last season. Do you think that’s your main asset?
“The physical side is an important part of my game. I like to patrol the midfield, and for players in my area to feel under pressure and out of their comfort zone in particular. I like winning the ball back and quickly finding attacking players, but I also like clearing balls from the back, dominating, having a lot of possession, and attacking in the opponent’s half...I think those are some of the features of Xavi’s Barça, and that's why I feel I can adapt very well and help the team”.
Another player from Tarragona is Barça’s new captain, Sergi Roberto. What are your thoughts? Has he been instrumental in helping you settle in?
“Sergi and I have known each other for a long time, he is an excellent player and a great person. He has had a superb career and he still has a a lot of football to play. He has earned the right to be captain after being at Barça for so many seasons now. He has had to adapt to different positions, scenarios, coaches, and he has always given his all. He deserves everything he gets. I really appreciate how he has looked after me since I arrived. He sent encouraging messages and a welcome even before I got here, which says a lot about him”.
What do you think Barça should be targeting this season?
“Every competition and to become a team with a clear identity, which attacks opponents, dominates, is aggressive, and has a high level of ambition. We simply have to aspire to win everything given our squad and the way we want to play”.
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